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New report advocates for universal access to medication information resources across Canada


A universally accessible medication information reference could help reduce medication misuse and errors, and even save lives. A Canada-based research group has been working to identify ways to increase the availability and standardization of medication information to health care providers, patients, and families.


The Rational Therapeutics and Medication Policy Research Group (RTMP), whose work focuses on medication appropriateness and access, have identified gaps in access to Canada’s existing medication information resources. This can result in inappropriate prescribing and medication misuse. Although these resources do exist, they are not universally accessible, not designed for both physician and patient use, there are no quality standards regulating them, and physicians are usually required to pay for these out-of-pocket, either directly or through membership fees.


Coinciding with these concerns, the RTMP —in collaboration with Bruyère Research Institute, the University of Ottawa Department of Family Medicine, and a number of other stakeholders — have released a report summarizing the results of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded national stakeholder roundtable. The goals of this symposium were to identify the medication information needs of Canadians, examine current resources available, review international examples, and determine ideal resource characteristics based on the needs of patients and healthcare providers.


“All health care providers in Canada should have universal access to the same, high-quality medication information, and right now, they don’t. This is deeply concerning,” explains Dr. Lise Bjerre, the RTMP investigator leading the project, and Clinician-Investigator with the University of Ottawa and Bruyère Research Institute.


Close to 25 per cent of harmful events that patients present within hospitals are related to medication errors – this is unacceptable and preventable. In turn, the RTMP calls on the federal government for support. The report suggests that the federal government fund universal access to high-quality medication information that meets the needs of both health care providers and patients in Canada.


These recommendations come from a diverse group of voices across Canada, from a variety of health care and patient organizations, associations, and institutes. Endorsers and supporters of the vision and recommendations put forward in the report include the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Nurses Association, Canadian Pharmacists Association, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada, National Pensioners Federation, and Canada Health Infoway – just to name a few.


“Countries like the Netherlands, Australia, and Denmark identified access to medication information as a central component of high-quality, patient-centered care, and they are global innovators and leaders in this field,” stated Dr. Bjerre. “It is about time for Canada to catch up.”


To access the full report, please click here.