Two Waterloo Pharmacy students are leading the charge to push government officials to let pharmacists do more for Ontario patients. George Daskalakis and Louis Wei are encouraging community members to participate in the Ontario Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacist’s Care letter-writing campaign.
“Pharmacists across Canada have received more prescribing rights and are able to provide more services,” says third year student Louis Wei. “Pharmacists have medication therapy expertise that can play a significant role in current issues like the opioid crisis and the upcoming legalization of cannabis. We want government officials to recognize the increased role pharmacists can play in the health of Ontario patients.”
The campaign provides email letters that members of the public can send to three politicians: their local Member of Provincial Parliament, the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, and the Premier of Ontario. The letters address four areas where pharmacists can play an increased role in patient health: pharmacist scope of practice, medicinal cannabis, vaccination, and the opioid crisis.
“With the upcoming provincial election, we want politicians to understand that we have the expertise, but require their assistance to have maximum impact,” says first year student George Daskalakis. “We’ve encouraged Waterloo students to send the letters and get their family members to send them too. We’ve connected with our counterparts at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Pharmacy as well. The goal is to send at least 70,000 letters – twelve from every pharmacy student and from the three people that they tell about the campaign.”
The opioid crisis is of particular interest to Wei and Daskalakis. Ontario’s government has pledged $222 million dollars to tackle the issue of opioid overdose and death over the next three years.
“Pharmacists have the training and knowledge to help stop overdoses and deaths associated with opioid addiction and misuse, and we want to ensure that the government allocates a portion of this fund to allowing pharmacists to use their medication expertise to help do this,” says Wei.
Sending letters is easy and takes less than 30 seconds. Visit the Pharmacist’s Care website and choose an issue under the ‘Issues’ tab. Fill out the form and click ‘Send Email’.
“We need as many people as possible to get involved and to help us advocate,” says Daskalakis. “By working together, we can ensure Ontario pharmacists are able to provide even better care for patients.”