Medication Information and the Surgeon’s Scalpel

Posted on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The case for a universally accessible, health system-funded Canadian medication guide

In clinics across Canada, family doctors are seeing increasingly complex patients. We work with these patients to manage their conditions and promote their overall wellbeing, often with the help of prescription medications.

In fact, primary care providers write the majority of prescriptions dispensed in Canada.

Many of us pay out-of-pocket – either directly or through membership fees – for access to medication information resources designed and marketed to us for quick and easy use at the point-of-care. We refer to these tools to help answer the medication-related questions that so often arise during patient visits, and to help inform our overall practice of evidence-based prescribing.

Despite our best efforts, there are gaps in access to medication information in Canada.

In the present situation, health care providers across Canada are referring, albeit unevenly, to a patchwork of medication information resources that are not paid for by the health care system, and that are not required to adhere to any quality standards.

In this modern age of multimorbidity and medication management, universal access to high-quality medication information is as critical to the practice of primary care as the scalpel is to surgery – and surgeons do not have to pay for their scalpels.

Health care providers in Canada should all have universal, health system-funded access to high-quality, standardized medication information at the point-of-care.

Dr. Lise Bjerre

Dr. Lise Bjerre

Next week, the Rational Therapeutics and Medication Policy (RTMP) Research Group, which is based in Ottawa and led by Dr. Lise M. Bjerre, Clinician-Investigator with the Department of Family Medicine and Bruyère Research Institute, is releasing a report of findings and recommendations from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded national stakeholder roundtable convened in April 2017 on the medication information needs of Canadians.

Publication day, January 22nd, marks the first day of an awareness-raising campaign that we hope will generate interest in addressing gaps in access to medication information in Canada and moving towards a sustainable solution to benefit all Canadians, and our healthcare system.

Please visit for more information, and to read the report once it goes live. We hope you will join our call to action on this very important issue.

Our team would like to thank the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine and Department of Family Medicine for their support of this work.

A list of endorsements and supporters.

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