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

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.

STI Outbreaks and Antibiotic-Resistance Prompt Safe Sex Reminder from Pharmacists

London Drugs pharmacists are providing free condoms on World Sexual Health Day, September 4th

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are on the rise in Canada as illustrated by several provincial outbreaks over the last year in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as a significant surge in BC. The increases are a result of multiple factors including inconsistent condom usage as well as antibiotic resistance which has made some of the most common STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, more difficult to treat.

Now more than ever, because of antibiotic resistance and the increasing prevalence of STIs, pharmacists are sending a timely reminder about the importance of safe sex.

London Drugs pharmacies will be providing free condoms as part of World Sexual Health Day on September 4th.

It’s part of an effort both to encourage safe sex practices and to highlight the role pharmacists can play in helping individuals make informed choices about their sexual health – from aiding in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, to providing information about the best contraceptive options, and reviewing symptoms with patients, recommending STI screening or referring to doctors when necessary.

“There is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic, but if we look at sexual health as simply a part of overall health, we can create a more open, accepting environment. No one should be afraid to ask questions about their health,” says London Drugs Pharmacist, Lily Liang.

Pharmacists are easily accessible without an appointment and they are used to discussing a wide range of topics, including sexual health. Private counselling booths and consultation rooms are available at most pharmacies for added confidentiality and discretion.

In recent years, London Drugs has expanded their sexual health offerings to include more than just traditional prophylactics with the addition of personal lubricants, massagers and other intimacy products. Order-online-pickup-instore, self-checkouts, and home delivery options at London Drugs make purchasing these items convenient and discrete.

Free Durex condoms will be available until supplies last at all London Drugs pharmacies on World Sexual Health Day which is observed annually on September 4th in an effort to promote greater social awareness on sexual health.

August is National Drug Drop-Off Month: Tips for Cleaning Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families

If it’s been a while since you’ve cleaned out your medicine cabinet, now is the time to dig out those old pill bottles. In support of the second annual National Drug Drop-Off Month, this August London Drugs is joining Drug Free Kids Canada to encourage all Canadians to secure their prescriptions and return all unused or expired medications to pharmacies.

As communities throughout the province grapple with the devastating effects of the opioid crisis, this month-long campaign highlights the problematic use of prescription drugs by teens and emphasizes the need for safe disposal to reduce the instances of abuse, overdoses as well as accidental poisonings.

While our pharmacy accepts unused medication for safe disposal every day, National Drug Drop-Off Month reminds us that everyone has a role to play in reducing the potential harms of prescription drugs on our communities.

Cleaning out your medicine cabinet and safely disposing of unused and expired medications at the pharmacy is a simple way we can all help reduce the potential harms of prescription drugs. Many prescription medications, over-the-counter products and health supplements remain in medicine cabinets and kitchen drawers long after their expiry date, while others are simply unused. Properly disposing of these drugs as well as medical sharps is important not only for the safety of loved ones but also for the environment.

 Follow these helpful tips for cleaning out your medicine cabinet

 

Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families. Whether intentional or accidental, ingestion of these prescription drugs is a very real risk to the health of our communities. Once you’ve collected your unused and expired medications, find your closest London Drugs location to drop off them off for safe disposal.

  1. Check expiration dates and remove products that are expired.
    Pharmacists recommend cleaning out your medicine cabinet annually since virtually every medication – from vitamins, to prescription medications, to over-the-counter products – have expiry dates. Keep in mind that some products can expire before the date on the label once opened. When in doubt, ask a pharmacist.
  2. Remove any medication not in its original container.
    If you can’t remember what a medication is for or who it was for, get rid of it. As much as possible, keep your medication in its original packaging. Mixing different medications in the same container or storing them outside of their original packaging increases the likelihood of accidental overdose or poisonings.
  3. Place unwanted and expired drugs in a clear plastic bag.
    Medications in blister packs and forms of liquid and cream medications can also be included in the plastic bag.
  4. Drop off your unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications at any London Drugs.
    These medications will be safely incinerated, preventing them from being abused, entering landfills or the sewer system. London Drugs also recycles medication bottles, lids and medication vials. Please be sure to remove personal information by taking off the label.
  5. You can bring your medications to the pharmacy year round.
    Unwanted and expired drugs are accepted every day at any London Drugs location. Instead of flushing pills or throwing medical sharps in the garbage, bring them to the pharmacy for safe disposal. Approved sharps containers can also be purchased to dispose of medical sharps.

Many prescription drugs that have a high potential for misuse come from the medicine cabinets of friends and families. Whether intentional or accidental, ingestion of these prescription drugs is a very real risk to the health of our communities. Once you’ve collected your unused and expired medications, find your closest London Drugs location to drop off them off for safe disposal.

 

Hepatitis C screening urged for all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975

London Drugs now offers accessible hepatitis C screening at locations in BC and Alberta

London Drugs Pharmacist. Get tested. Get Treated. Get Cured. Hepatitis C Screening Clinics.

Nine in ten people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they have the life-threatening infection because it can take decades before symptoms become evident. New testing guidelines recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get screened. There is an elevated risk among that age group due to inferior infection prevention and control practices, and blood products that went unscreened prior to 1992.

Anyone can now be screened for hepatitis C with the simple finger prick test at London Drugs locations throughout BC and Alberta.  The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99% accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes. The cost of the test is $24.

In the case of a positive antibody result, pharmacists will notify the patient’s family physician so that a confirmatory blood test can be ordered.  In the case of a positive result, the patient is referred to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.  Pharmacists provide education about the curative therapies available and support patients throughout their journey from treatment to cure. The treatment is relatively simple; it involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks. Current therapies can cure over 95% of people with hepatitis C.

In an effort to improve access to testing and treatment for the potentially liver-destroying virus, and reduce the stigma associated with the blood-borne illness, London Drugs is hosting hepatitis C screening events at London Drugs locations leading up to World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, 2019. Hepatitis C Educators will be at stores to help increase awareness about the need for screening. These specially trained pharmacists will be offering expert advice and encouraging testing, particularly among higher-risk populations. A complete list of event times and locations can be found here.

New Tech & Tips to Relieve Menstrual Cramps

No more pain. Period.

Menstrual Pain


Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, can range from slight discomfort to complete agony. While many women have experienced the latter, the pains are often dismissed or suffered through in silence, without recognition of just how debilitating the pain can be. That began to change, however, when Professor of reproductive health at University College London, John Guillebaud, was quoted in Quartz saying that the level of pain many women experience during their period each month can be almost as painful as a heart attack.

The story has prompted a larger discussion about period pain and the extent to which some women suffer.

London Drugs Patient Care Pharmacist, Lily Liang isn’t surprised. She says she sees many patients coming into the pharmacy, looking for relief from extremely painful menstrual cramps.

“For many women, the severity of the abdominal pain caused by menstruation makes it difficult for them to perform regular tasks, at home or at work. If this is the case for you, it’s worth speaking with a health professional to see if there are ways to manage the pain.”

Liang says that pain may also be accompanied by nausea, headache, diarrhea or constipation, or other symptoms. Premenstrual symptoms may include irritability, abdominal bloating and fatigue, and can persist throughout the menstrual period.

What Causes ‘Period Cramps’

There are two types of menstrual pain – primary and secondary. Most women experience primary menstrual pain which may start with the first period and continue throughout their life. Primary menstrual pain has no underlying condition. Secondary period pain is caused by an underlying condition in the uterus, such as endometriosis, fibroids or pelvic inflammatory disease.

“It’s best to speak with your doctor first to find out which kind of menstrual pain – primary or secondary – you’re suffering from,” says Liang.

Hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins, are what trigger the uterus to contract. Higher levels of prostaglandins can cause that intense period cramping and pain that many women experience. Usually, period pain decreases with age, however there are many factors that can exacerbate it, like intrauterine birth control devices and tampons. Lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption can also make period pain worse.

Over-the-Counter Pain Management

Some symptoms can be relieved by taking vitamins and supplements. Calcium and magnesium may reduce cramping and fluid retention, while Vitamin E may reduce the breast tenderness some women experience during their period.

There are also over-the-counter medications easily accessible in the pharmacy for women who experience pain during their periods.

“If you’re suffering from mild pain, an over-the-counter medication with acetaminophen should be sufficient. For more moderate menstrual pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be recommended,” explains Liang.

Your pharmacist can counsel you on possible side effects of OTC medications, as well as advise on non-drug treatment options. For example, medications like ibuprofen should be taken with food, and may not be recommended for patients with kidney disease, gastric ulcers or bleeding disorders.

“Getting enough sleep and regular exercise will help with menstrual pains. Good nutrition can also help. Limit your caffeine and sodium intake, as caffeine can interfere with sleep, and salty foods can result in bloating.”

Wearable Tech that Manages Pain

 

Woman wearing Livia

 

Beyond medications, there are also new, technology-based solutions that promise to help effectively alleviate menstrual pain. Livia, which has just launched at London Drugs, is a new wearable tech device that stimulates the nerves to offer drug-free relief from menstrual cramps. Cosmopolitan Magazine, has even gone so far as to say, “this machine could put an end to your period pain FOREVER!”

While some over-the-counter and prescription medications can take 30 minutes or more to alleviate pain, Livia provides instant relief from the second you turn it on. The technology transmits external pulses to essentially keep the nerves ‘busy’ and block the signals that cause painful menstrual cramps. The device, which is only 55mm x 55mm, comes with a micro USB charging cable and two electrode flower pads which have a pre-applied gel. The plus and minus buttons on the device allow the user to control the intensity. Best of all, Livia can be easily hidden under clothes, so that it can be discreetly worn while out in public.

Livia can be found at London Drugs in both the feminine hygiene and pain relief sections in store as well as online. Between now and July 11th, 2019, when you buy a Livia device at London Drugs, you receive free gel pads.

Need help finding pain relief that is right for you? Come visit us in the pharmacy to speak to a pharmacist!

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