March 21, 2020 update from Chris Chiew, London Drugs General Manager of Pharmacy, regarding COVID-19

March 21, 2020 update 

Dear valued London Drugs patients and customers,

We are now a couple of weeks in, having made major adjustments to our lives. It is hard to believe how much has changed in such a short time and I hope you are all getting the support you need from family, friends and co-workers, to stay as healthy as possible.  

In my first communication on March 16, I made sure you were aware of the rigorous cleaning and sanitation practices happening at all of our stores and that we were working endlessly to replenish inventory of essential items, as fast as possible. This is still happening, and our top priority continues to be to help our patients and customers remain healthy and safe to the very best of our ability. This includes putting a limit of 2 essential items per customer, to ensure quantities are fair for everyone.

As recommendations from the health authorities evolve rapidly, we continue to introduce new and enhanced safety measures in all of our stores. This includes special shopping hours for seniors and people with disabilities (currently Monday to Friday 8 – 9 am and this may extend to weekends). We may also need to shorten hours in some of our pharmacies to make sure we can continue to operate with the highest efficiencies and safety, while keeping up with unprecedented demands.

When in London Drugs and to assist our customers maintain the recommended social distancing, you will soon see decals on the floors designating the appropriate 2 metre length we should be standing from one another. You will also soon see plexiglass barriers that will go up between our customers and staff. These extra cautious measures are necessary right now. 

Something new we have just started, is a program to help seniors who might be isolated or in desperate need of essential items or medications. If you know of a senior who is in great need, we have a dedicated team of staff who are here to support them. Caregivers and family members can email SupportSeniors@LondonDrugs.com.

I would like to take this time to thank all of our employees. While much of the public is being asked to stay home, our stores are deemed an essential service and so our staff are coming to work, stocking shelves, and filling your prescriptions.  

Also, something positive to share with you. As an industry, grocers and pharmacies are keeping the communication lines open. We are sharing best practices with each other daily, in our efforts to help keep our communities safe.

As a 75-year-old trusted Canadian family company, we look at what all of us are going through and we want to do everything we possibly can, to take care of each other. We will get through this and we are in this together.

Stay safe, stay well.

 

Important Prescription Refill and Prescription Delivery Information

Flu Prevention Tips

With an increased and new flu viruses reported this year, pharmacists are advising patients to take preventative measures to avoid getting sick.


All London Drugs pharmacies are still offering this year’s flu vaccine but in addition to getting a flu shot, Pharmacists offer the following advice to help you reduce your chances of getting sick.

Wash your hands:

Frequent handwashing is first and foremost in cold and flu prevention. The viruses that cause winter ills can be picked up everywhere and washing your hands goes a long way. It is especially important before eating or touching your face, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, before, during & after you prepare food, after toilet use and after handling animals or animal waste. Proper handwashing is more than just running water over your hands in the sink. To ensure they are thoroughly rid of harmful germs:

  • Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wash the front of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
  • Don’t forget your wrists! Remove any jewelry or watches if necessary
  • Use a paper towel to dry your hands as well as to turn off the tap so you don’t re-contaminate your hands
  • If using a public bathroom, use that same paper towel to open the door when exiting
  • If no soap and water readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Keep your hands away from your face:

Touching your face when your hands have picked up a virus will put that virus in touch with the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose or eyes—a surefire way to become sick fast.

Avoid handshakes:

Although sometimes unavoidable, shaking hands and then rubbing your nose or eyes, handling a glass, or eating finger-food is an effective way to catch something. If etiquette demands you greet someone this way, excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity to wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.

Avoid sharing common household items:

Items such as cups, utensils, towels, bedding, dishes or other items with other people increase the risk of catching or spreading a cold or virus.

Beware of keypads:

They are everywhere— at the ATM, a restaurant, the elevator, and virtually every retail establishment. Public computers found in schools and libraries are also a hazard during cold and flu outbreaks. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that is transmitted by airborne droplets that can survive up to 48 hours outside the body on other surfaces. So, once again, sanitize your hands as frequently as possible and avoid touching your face after using a public keypad.

Use paper towel:

Viruses can remain alive for several hours on fabric so when someone in your home or office is sick, replace hand towels with disposable paper towel. If you don’t like the idea of paper towels, make sure everyone has, and uses, their own cloth towel. When using public washrooms, use a paper towel to cover the door handle when you exit.

Common symptoms of the flu include:

A sudden, high fever (38 to 40 degrees C); headache, extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing, chills and sweating; dry cough; loss of appetite; muscle aches and pains; runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat.

Here is some advice for anyone already experiencing these symptoms:

Talk to your Pharmacist to get the right medication: Pharmacists are available to provide advice about over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms. They can recommend the best medications for each person in the family to suite their individual symptoms. Other medicine cabinet essentials, including zinc lozenges and vitamin C tablets should be on-hand as well. Zinc lozenges will not only soothe the throat but combat viruses like the flu, and vitamin C taken daily will also help to decrease the duration and severity of a cold once it hits. A thermometer should be at home too, to monitor fevers.

Heed sneeze etiquette: To prevent others from becoming infected. If you need to sneeze in a public place, and you don’t have a tissue to sneeze into, turn your head into your elbow. This will ensure virus-laden water droplets won’t spread far and wide.

Avoid contact with others: If you start feeling sick or feverish, it’s best to stay home until you feel well enough to resume your daily routine. This ensures that you don’t get others around you sick, thus preventing the spread of your cold or flu.

Relax and sleep: Stress suppresses the immune system and makes you more likely to catch whatever is going around. So try to relax and take some peaceful time for yourself. Since the immune system repairs itself during sleep, be sure to get extra shut-eye during cold and flu season.

Stay Home. Rest and relaxation help you recover faster. When displaying symptoms of a virus, stay home and rest. This will not only help speed up your recovery, it also will protect those around you from exposure to the virus.

Eat well: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain phytonutrients that help you fight viruses by building up your immune response. Proteins too are needed to galvanize the immune system, so make sure you consume low-fat healthy protein with every meal. Drink plenty of fluids and take vitamin C supplements.

The Coronavirus

News headlines are filled with stories relating to the coronavirus. This new virus has started to spread including here to Canada, and many people have questions. While the above does serve as a good guide for general flu like symptoms, if you have recently been to, or have been in contact, with anyone visiting China, you should be extra cautious if displaying the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pneumonia in both lungs

If you exhibit any of the above, please remember the following:

  • Stay home except to get medical care. Call ahead before visiting your doctor
  • Stay in a different room from other people in your home and use a separate bathroom
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue OR cough or sneeze into your sleeve.  Throw away used tissues immediately in a trash bin.  Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

You can find more detailed patient information on the coronavirus at London Drugs pharmacies. Remember the best offence is a good defense. To stay healthy is to eat well, take your vitamins, and get a good night’s sleep, while practicing the hygiene tips above. Check out everything you’ll need for cold and flu prevention here. Together we can greatly reduce the risk of spreading viruses.

 

 

Antibiotic Awareness Week: Many Canadians Admit to Antibiotic Misuse

Reminder about the correct and cautious use of antibiotics ahead of cold and flu season

The escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance is a national public health concern which has jeopardized the effectiveness of some commonly prescribed antibiotics, contributing to the rise of superbugs. While most Canadians say they have a strong understanding of how antibiotics should be used and the importance of taking them correctly as prescribed, a new poll conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs finds that many admit to using them incorrectly.

One in five (21%) say they have stopped using antibiotics before the prescription was finished, as soon as they stopped experiencing symptoms. A further fifteen per cent say they have used leftover antibiotics to treat a new symptom or illness. One in ten (10%) admit to using antibiotics prescribed to someone else or acquiring antibiotics without a prescription from somewhere other than a pharmacy. Despite this, most Canadians (90%) are aware that unnecessary antibiotic use and misuse directly contributes to the rise in resistant bacteria.

“The act of taking antibiotics incorrectly goes beyond your own medicine cabinet. It has widespread impact for entire populations of people and for future generations because it compromises our ability to treat infectious diseases,” says Gianni Del Negro, Pharmacy Manager at London Drugs.

Canadian Antibiotic Awareness Week, which runs November 12 to 18, is a national campaign that aims to put a spotlight on unnecessary antibiotic use that is contributing to a rise in resistant bacteria, making infections much harder, and some impossible to treat. The event coincides with World Antibiotic Awareness Week, led by global champions for the responsible use of antibiotics.

“Particularly as we head into cold and flu season, it’s timely to remind Canadians that antibiotics aren’t appropriate for all illnesses and that there are both medical risks and public health consequences of taking antibiotics haphazardly,” says Del Negro.

London Drugs pharmacist, Kerry Yan, consults a patient about the use of antibiotics. Education and awareness are key to preventing the misuse and overuse of antibiotics which may be contributing to a rise in resistant bacteria.

London Drugs pharmacist, Kerry Yan, consults a patient about the use of antibiotics. Education and awareness are key to preventing the misuse and overuse of antibiotics which may be contributing to a rise in resistant bacteria.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), overuse and misuse of antibiotics is more common in Canada than in other OECD countries[i]. The poll highlighted some misconceptions that may be contributing to the misuse of the drugs by some individuals in the country including:

  • Three in ten (31%) are not aware that antibiotics are unnecessary for some common bacterial infections.
  • One quarter (24%) are not aware that antibiotics are ineffective for the flu virus.
  • One in five (18%) are not aware that antibiotics are ineffective for the common cold.
  • One in ten (11%) are not aware that different antibiotics are prescribed for different infections or illnesses; they are not a “one size fits all” drug.

Young Canadians appear to be the biggest offenders when it comes to liberal misuse of antibiotics. Those aged 18 to 34 years old (17%) were the most likely to admit to using antibiotics prescribed to someone else or acquired antibiotics without a prescription from somewhere other than a pharmacy. One in three (32%) young Canadians also agreed that they have stopped using antibiotics after they stopped experiencing symptoms, but before the prescription was finished. They were also significantly more likely to say they have used leftover antibiotics to treat a new symptom or illness.

“Our survey suggests a critical reminder is needed – especially to young Canadians – about correct and cautious use of antibiotics,” says Del Negro, who points to the substantial increase in antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea infections, which primarily affect young people, as an example.

Today more than 50 per cent of gonorrhoea infections in Canada are due to bacteria that are resistant to at least one antibiotic.[ii] In 2017, over 80 per cent of the total reported cases of gonorrhea in Canada occurred in young Canadians aged 15–39.[iii]

Del Negro says that all Canadians can help prevent the growth of resistant infections.

“First and foremost, reduce your risk of infection. Protect yourself by washing your hands, practice safe sex, keep your vaccinations up-to-date and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” he advises. “If you do get an infection or if you do get sick, do not be tempted to take leftover antibiotics. Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking any antibiotics and return any unused prescriptions to the pharmacy for safe disposal.”

When it comes to some winter illnesses affecting the nose, throat, ears, throat or lungs, Del Negro says it is important to remember that over-the-counter medicines can often alleviate symptoms without the use of antibiotics.

“Your pharmacist can provide advice on which medications are best suited to manage specific symptoms. They can also advise if they think further medical intervention or a prescription for antibiotics might be necessary,” he says.

To consult with a pharmacist, find your closest London Drugs pharmacy here.

 

[i]   Canadian Institute for Health Information. Infographic: Do you need that antibiotic? 2017
[ii]  Chief Public Health Officer of Canada’s 2019 Spotlight Report
[iii]  Public Health Agency of Canada – Notifiable diseases on-line

Double Check your EpiPen with Health Canada Advisory

 

With the holidays, specifically Halloween, fast approaching, it’s a good bet you and your family will be indulging a bit more on treats and different dishes you wouldn’t normally eat. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared should you or a loved one have an allergic reaction.

Pfizer Canada has advised Health Canada that, in a very small number of cases, some EpiPen (0.3 mg) and EpiPen Jr (0.15 mg) auto-injector devices may not slide out of their carrier tube easily, or at all. Although the chance of this occurring is very rare, failure to administer epinephrine as soon as possible during an anaphylactic response could lead to patient disability or death.

Currently, Pfizer has indicated that this issue – a deformation on the open rim of the plastic carrier tube may be present – may affect any EpiPen auto-injectors currently on the market in Canada expiring prior to and including September 2020.

Consumers should check that their EpiPen devices can be removed from the carrier tubes with ease.

For more information on EpiPen and EpiPen Jr advisory from Health Canada, click HERE

 

Everything You Need to Know: London Drugs 2019-2020 Annual Flu Immunization Program

Getting the Flu Shot at London Drugs

All 82 London Drugs locations offer a convenient way for Canadians to receive their annual flu shot. Patients can call the pharmacy or book online to make an appointment. All locations also offer vaccinations on a walk-in basis when London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists are on staff.

Increasing Convenience to Increase Immunization Rates

Extended hours, appointments, as well as flexibility for walk-in patients has allowed London Drugs pharmacies to significantly improve ease of access to the flu vaccine with the goal of improving immunization rates. Now more than ever, busy Canadian families are taking advantage of pharmacies as an accessible and convenient alternative to public flu clinics, where they may have experienced long lines and wait times in previous years.

Nervous About Needles? New ‘ouchless’ flu shot option now available

With news that the flu vaccine won’t be available in nasal spray form for Canadians this year, London Drugs pharmacists hope that won’t deter people – especially children – from rolling up their sleeves.

To help reduce flu shot anxiety, London Drugs is offering an ‘ouchless’ option with a free application of Zensa Numbing Cream prior to administering the vaccination. Zensa is a Health Canada approved topical anaesthetic that desensitizes the skin in as little as ten minutes, lessening any potential pain experienced from a flu shot injection.

The goal of the initiative is to provide Canadians who may be fearful of the flu shot, especially children, with an option that may help quell their anxieties.

In BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, children ages five years and older can receive their flu shot at a pharmacy from a Certified Injection Pharmacist. In Manitoba, the flu shot can be administered to children seven years and older at the pharmacy. Zensa is safe for use on children ages 2 and up.

Need more reasons to get immunized? For every flu shot given at London Drugs, a lifesaving vaccine is donated to UNICEF

Simply by getting this year’s flu vaccine at London Drugs, you can play active role in helping to protect tens of thousands of children in other parts of the world from deadly, vaccine-preventable diseases. For every flu shot administered at London Drugs this year, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to immunize children in other countries from illnesses such as tetanus, polio and measles.

The vaccination donation campaign is in partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), an online immunization advocacy and learning platform supported by the Province of British Columbia and administered by the Public Health Association of BC. Since 2016, I Boost Immunity has donated over 750,000 vaccines for children through UNICEF through various campaigns.

What to Expect During the 2019-2020 Flu Season

Pharmacist Agusia McGrath spoke on Global News Morning Calgary about what to expect during the 2019-20 flu season, the need to get vaccinated and the misconceptions surrounding flu shots.

Who Can Get Vaccinated at London Drugs

London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists can provide the flu vaccination to adults as well as children.

The injection regulations for pharmacists vary by province. Below is an overview.

When to Get Vaccinated at London Drugs

Getting vaccinated before flu season arrives gives the body the greatest chance to build up immunity to (protection from) the virus. Influenza activity in Canada typically begins to increase over the fall, and peaks in the winter months. Depending on the year, the peak may occur as early as fall or as late as spring.

To maximize your protection, get vaccinated annually as soon as the flu shot becomes available.

2019-2020 Flu Shot Launch Schedule

About the 2019/2020 Vaccine

Standard-Dose Vaccine

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine has been updated to protect against the viruses that health experts believe will be circulating during the upcoming season. The flu vaccine for 2019-20 includes immunization against both H1N1 and H3N2 influenza A virus strains and either one or two influenza B viruses.

Fluzone High-Dose

Note: Due to manufacturer delays, Fluzone High-Dose availability is delayed until early December. Call ahead to confirm availability.

The Fluzone High-Dose is specially formulated to provide better protection for people over 65. Compared to the standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccines, the Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the antigen intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibodies) in older individuals, who generally respond at lower levels than younger individuals. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine gives older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu.

Fluzone High-Dose is not currently publicly funded. It will be available for purchase at London Drugs at a cost of $75 when it becomes available.

Nervous About Needles? New ‘Ouchless’ Flu Shot May Ease Your Fears

With news that the flu vaccine won’t be available in nasal spray form for Canadians this year, pharmacists hope that doesn’t deter people – especially children – from rolling up their sleeves to receive a flu shot.

To help reduce needle anxiety, starting this month London Drugs is pleased to offer a free application of Zensa Numbing Cream, prior to administering the flu shot. Zensa is a Health Canada approved topical anaesthetic that is safe for use on children ages 2 and up, and will desensitize the skin in as little as ten minutes for a pain-free flu shot experience.

The goal of the initiative is to increase immunization rates by offering an ‘ouchless’ flu shot experience for those who may be fearful of needles.

“We want to make sure there are no hindrances to people getting protection from the flu virus and Zensa should help; especially when it comes to individuals who may be nervous about getting the shot,” says Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.

In BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, children ages five years and older can receive their flu shot at a pharmacy from a Certified Injection Pharmacist. In Manitoba, the flu shot can be administered to children seven years and older at the pharmacy.

Ready to get your flu shot at London Drugs? Learn more here.

7 Services You Might Not Know Your Pharmacist Offers

You might be used to visiting your local pharmacist to pick up prescriptions, but did you know there are many other ways your pharmacist can help maintain and improve your health? For many years, pharmacists have been taking on expanded roles in our health care system, working closely with patients, their families and collaborating with other frontline health care providers to deliver personalized, team-based patient care.

In celebration of World Pharmacist Day on September 25th, we’ve rounded up a list of 7 services you might not know your pharmacist offers, from travel vaccinations to smoking cessation consultations. As the most accessible health care providers, it’s easy to take advantage of these services conveniently at your local London Drugs pharmacy!

1. Medication Reviews

The theme of this year’s World Pharmacist Day is “safe and effective medicines for all”. Pharmacists play a crucial role in maintaining patient safety, improving medication adherence and reducing medication errors. One of the many ways they do this is by providing medication reviews. Through medication reviews, pharmacists provide personalized consultations to patients to examine and discuss issues around medication use, side effects, interactions, and anything else related to medication therapy, with the goal of ensuring safe and effective treatments.

2. Vaccinations and Immunizations

Certified Injection Pharmacists are able to administer vaccinations right at the pharmacy. If you haven’t taken advantage of this convenient way of getting vaccinated yet, you aren’t alone. According to a recent survey conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs, only four in ten say they have used this service before.

London Drugs’ Certified Injection Pharmacists can ensure you’re up-to-date with many vaccinations you require, and can administer vaccinations for pneumonia, tetanus, pertussis, shingles, and influenza.

Flu Shots

To make getting your annual flu shot as quick and easy as possible during flu season, you can see one of our London Drugs Certified Injection Pharmacists, who are able to administer flu shots to patients. Patients are encouraged to call the pharmacy to confirm availability of the flu vaccine and that an injection pharmacist is on staff. This is a convenient alternative to public flu clinics, where you may have experienced long lines and wait times in the past.

Travel and Vaccination Clinics

When you’re planning a trip abroad, ensuring you are up-to-date on the appropriate travel vaccines is important. Do you know where to get your travel vaccinations? Only one in three (35%) Canadians are aware that travel vaccinations can be administered by a pharmacist.

Travel and Immunization Clinics are hosted at many of our pharmacies to help prepare you for international travel. Pharmacists will review your immunization history and make sure vaccinations are up-to-date according to provincial, national and even international immunization programs. They can also suggest and administer additional vaccines depending on your planned travel activities, previous immunization history and the local conditions at many common destinations.

3. Emergency Prescription Refills, Prescription Renewals & Drug Modifications

Pharmacists make significant contributions to the quality of drug therapy and patient outcomes by initiating, monitoring and adjusting drug therapy. Traditionally in Canada, the authority to prescribe medications has rested with doctors but as part of Pharmacists’ expanded scope of practice in Canada, pharmacists in many provinces now have the ability to provide emergency prescription refills, renew or extend prescriptions, modify or adapt drug therapy, change drug dosage and even have independent prescriptive authority (in Alberta).

4. Diabetes Management Consults

The most important thing you can do to manage your diabetes is to form a partnership with your healthcare professionals. Our London Drugs Certified Diabetes Educators can assist patients through individualized Diabetes Management Consults. These customized one-on-one consultations focus on blood sugar testing, medication management, preventing low blood sugar, foot care, eating well and getting enough physical activity.

5. Healthy Heart Clinics

Pharmacists are playing a key role in the prevention of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, by helping patients understand their risk factors, emphasizing the importance of medication adherence and offering counselling to make important lifestyle changes.

During our one-on-one 45-minute Healthy Heart Clinics, patients have the opportunity to sit down with a London Drugs Patient Care Pharmacist for a customized screening and evaluation. The pharmacist screens for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, random glucose and blood pressure, and can determine a 10-year cardiovascular risk factor based on those measurements. They also discuss with the patient how to lower their risk and improve heart health, which include recommendations for changes to their diet, fitness routines or lifestyle. As a collaborative health care provider, the pharmacist may also contact a physician, in order to recommend changes to the patient’s medications, or further medical intervention.

6. Smoking Cessation Consultations

Trying to quit smoking? Your local pharmacist can be a convenient support resource. During a one-on-one smoking cessation consultation, a London Drugs Certified Tobacco Educator will:

  • Discuss practical tips and advice to help you reduce/quit tobacco
  • Develop a personalized quit plan to help you stop smoking

In BC, pharmacists can also offer the BC smoking cessation program for nicotine replacement.

7. Hepatitis C Screening Clinics

Hepatitis C Screening is just one example in which our pharmacists provide Point of Care Testing to patients. Point of care testing refers to any medical test or screening that is performed outside of a lab or clinic. The testing happens at a place where the patient is receiving care (such as a pharmacy), making it a convenient option for the patient.

This innovative and potentially life-saving hepatitis C screening is available at select London Drugs locations. Patients can undertake a simple finger prick test at the pharmacy to check if they have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) at some point in the past. The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99% accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes.

In cases of a positive result, pharmacists refer patients to their family doctor for a diagnostic lab test. Pharmacists provide initial counselling regarding the potential diagnosis and education about the ability to cure HCV.

You can find out which locations offer hepatitis C screening here.

 

There are even more ways that your pharmacist can help you maintain and improve your health! Just visit them at your local London Drugs pharmacy to learn how.

Next Page »