In the News

In the News

Dispensing Fees Exceed Drug Costs

Pharmacies in Ontario charged seniors in nursing homes $250 Million in $2 copayment fees over 5 years.   For seniors living in the community, these co-payment fees are typically waived.   Pharmacies who service Long Term Care homes (nursing homes) are not required to charge these co-pays.     The Toronto Star wrote an article on this topic and showed that families can request to not pay these co-payments.

The overall issue is that roughly one billion in dispensing fees were paid to pharmacies over five years to dispense drugs that cost 800 million.  Part of the issue is the practice of weekly dispensing for all residents in nursing homes versus monthly.    While there are good arguments for this for some residents (frequent changes in dosages and drugs and desire to not waste medication) the data shows that most residents do not require it.    Dispensing fee’s gain greater scrutiny for nursing home residents given efficiency  / volume gains for pharmacies compared to their retail operations where they must speak with each family about each prescription.   Pharmacies servicing nursing homes deal only weekly with medical staff at the nursing home.

While it is good that seniors benefit from the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan, clearly there is room for improvement to make it more efficient and reduce dispensing charges for seniors.

Read Toronto Star Article on Dispensing Fees in Nursing Homes

Promising New Alzheimer’s Drug

Scientists do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s, but abnormal protein clumps (plaques and tangles) are always present with the disease.   A promising new Alzheimer’s drug (antibody) called aducanumab might remove these toxic proteins from the brain.   The results, reported on 31 August 2016 in Nature1, showed that aducanumab successfully broke up amyloid-β proteins in patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The trial focused on safety, and so the final word on whether aducanumab works to stop memory and cognitive losses will have to wait until the completion of two larger phase III trials that are underway but will run through 2020.

It is important to remember that other drugs which performed well in early trials, later proved to not work, or had significant side effects.   For aducanumab (we are not sure who comes up with drug names), there were reported side effects in some participants who were on higher dosages, including minor brain swelling and headaches.     So while this clinical trial does show a “breakthrough”, science is still a long way away from being able to help your loved one suffering today.

See Article From Nature

See How the Press Reported This




Age-Defying Athletes: Canadian Senior Fastest in Boston Marathon

Canadian senior Yul Kwon finished fastest in 2016 Boston Marathon for Men’s over 80 category.   Researchers find lessons from age-defying athletes for all of us.   Regular exercise (done with your doctor’s okay) helps the brain and using your muscles dramatically slows the natural degradation of “motor neurons”.   Keeping more “motor neurons” improves how your brain controls your muscles and how your muscles function (think fall prevention).   Tips for healthy aging and active seniors.   You don’t have to run a marathon to benefit from exercise.   See article.


Caregivers At High Risk of Depression

According to research by University Health Network, the majority of caregivers, after hospital discharge of loved ones from a significant health episode, suffer major depressive symptoms soon after hospital discharge.

According to the article from the Hamilton Spectator, “…Two-thirds of caregivers suffer major depressive symptoms in the first week after patients leave the hospital……A year later, more than 40 per cent still show signs of clinical depression….”.   The study included 280 caregivers with loved ones who received at least seven days of mechanical ventilation before discharge from intensive care units.    Read the article at:

Canadians Not Confident About Seniors Health care

Fewer than one in four Canadians in a 2015 poll believe there will be adequate home care and long-term care facilities, and just one in three think there will be sufficient hospital beds available to meet their basic medical needs as they age.    Three in five of those surveyed do not feel they are in a good position – financially or otherwise – to care for aging family members in need of long-term health care.

See Globe and Mail Article on Poll