The Best Online Pharmacy Pharmacies for Families
By Linda B. Sager December 17, 2017 5:30 p.m.
A few weeks ago, the Canadian Online Pharmacists Association released its annual list of the best online pharmacy pharmacies for families, but there’s a catch: the group didn’t list a single family pharmacy.
The COPAA lists about 10 family-friendly pharmacies, but they aren’t listed as such.
So what’s wrong with that?
For one thing, there’s no shortage of great choices in Canada.
In fact, family-oriented online pharmacies offer a wide range of medication choices.
And because there’s usually a lot of overlap between the kinds of medications a family can use and the kinds a pharmacy can dispense, many families can have an extensive variety of options.
“We’re seeing a significant increase in the use of online pharmacies in Canada, especially in rural communities, as people are more comfortable getting medications from home or using a local pharmacy,” says Jennifer Lachance, president of the Canadian Association of Family Pharmacists.
“It’s a great opportunity for families to have a more personalized pharmacy experience and we’re excited to see this trend continue.”
Lachances group’s first-ever annual survey of family-centric online pharmacies found that about 30 per cent of families are currently using online pharmacies, up from 20 per cent a year ago.
(This is from a sample of families in the province of British Columbia.)
“It really is a huge opportunity for us to make sure our members can provide high-quality, affordable medications to families in their community,” says Lachures group president, Linda Bouchard.
The Canadian Association for Family Pharmacy says about 70 per cent have a pharmacists’ assistant and another 30 per the group’s members.
But it’s not just pharmacists.
In many provinces, pharmacists also offer online pharmacy services, including pharmacy support, information on how to use a pharmacy, online order-tracking, and ordering and billing.
“The main thing is that pharmacists are getting more involved,” says Dr. Karen McGlothlin, associate director of pharmacists services at the University of Ottawa Health Sciences Centre.
“They’re helping people, not only in the online pharmacy but also through the physical pharmacy, to get the medication they need.”
It’s not a perfect solution, however.
Pharmacists have to work closely with pharmacists, and that can be challenging.
“When I see pharmacists using their personal time and their own resources to help their family members access medication, it’s really frustrating,” says McGlothsons group’s Lachares.
“If I were to suggest a pharmacist, it would be a pharmacist who’s been in the industry for 20 years or more who’s not taking that into consideration.”
For some families, pharmacist access can be a challenge, and it can be difficult to find the right pharmacy.
“I can’t say that the majority of pharmacist assistants who are out there are able to do the job that they do, but it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed,” says David Hargrave, president and CEO of the Association of Pharmacists of Canada.
“In terms of the availability of pharmacism, pharmacism access for families is the biggest barrier for many families.”
Another issue is access to a pharmacy’s medication information.
It’s hard to navigate the website, especially for families with small children, who can often struggle to find a pharmacy near their home.
There’s also the fact that there are so many pharmacies that can’t be located in your area.
“There are many online pharmacies where you can’t go to find what you’re looking for,” says Hargraves group president.
The Association of Registered Pharmacists (ARP) also has a website where families can request access to medication.
It helps with finding a pharmacy close to them, but not all pharmacists will accept that request.
“Some pharmacists do not allow that request, so families should seek out pharmacists who will,” says ARP president and spokesperson, Lisa McRae.
“Pharmacist accessibility is an ongoing issue for the industry.”
Still, it may not be a problem for most families.
“A lot of pharmacistic assistant’s work is done by volunteers, so if you can find someone who can actually get their medication delivered to your door, that can help,” says Bouchards group president McGlovers.
“What we have is a lot more options out there than we had a few years ago, so I think it’s great that there’s more options available.”
The Canadian Pharmacists’ Association estimates that the number of people using online pharmacy medications in Canada has grown from around 300,000 in 2015 to more than 1.1 million in 2016.
“Online pharmacies are the future,” says CPA President and CEO Scott Hargreaves.
“More families and individuals are looking for ways to access medications at home, in their communities and at the office