In the News


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This feature in Pharmacy Connection is a place to find information about news stories we’re following. Here, you’ll read summaries of recent stories relating to pharmacy in Ontario and Canada. For the latest updates, stay tuned to e-Connect and www.ocpinfo.com


IMPROVED VACCINE MATCH FOR THIS YEAR’S FLU STRAINS

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Health officials believe they have created a vaccine that’s more effective against the season’s major flu strains than last year’s shot.

The Canadian Sentinel Practitioner Surveillance Network, which researches the annual efficacy of the vaccine, found last year’s shot was only 17 per cent effective in preventing respiratory illness from H3N2 (the dominant A strain of influenza) in the overall population. It was found to be only 10 per cent effective for adults aged 20 to 64. It was better at warding off respiratory illness caused by the dominant B strain of influenza; about 55 per cent effective.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s FluWatch, there were 64,403 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Canada last season, mostly Influenza A/H3N2. There were 302 deaths directly attributed to influenza, including nine children.


HIGH RATES OF ANTIBIOTIC USE IN ONTARIO RAISE CONCERNS: STUDY

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New research suggests Ontario is seeing a high rate of prescribed antibiotics, which could lead to an increase in drug-resistant infections.

In a study, Public Health Ontario examined the number of antibiotic prescriptions given across 14 health regions in the province from March, 2016 to February, 2017. The research team found that there were as many as 778 antibiotic prescriptions filled for every 1,000 residents in a region of southwest Ontario.

In total, patients in Ontario were prescribed more than 8.3 million antibiotic treatments during the 12-month study period.


CAMPAIGN TO CONNECT CANADIANS WITH DIGITAL HEALTH RECORDS

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Canada Health Infoway has launched its “Access 2022” campaign, designed to encourage digital access to health information and e-services. A key goal of the campaign is to work towards a health system that is integrated, secure, innovative, and focused on improving health outcomes As a result of investments in digital health initiatives, Canada Health Infoway estimates that Canadians and the healthcare system have benefited from over $26 billion in cost savings and efficiencies since 2017.


ACCESS TO CANNABIS FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES REGULATIONS (ACMPR) TO REMAIN IN PLACE FOR AT LEAST FIVE MORE YEARS

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In September, Health Canada announced that Canada’s existing medical marijuana system will remain in place for at least five years but will be reviewed at some point within that five year period. In a statement, Health Canada said that “measures under the Cannabis Act aim to facilitate research with the goal of improving our knowledge of the risks and benefits of cannabis” and that increased research “could lead to new drug submissions of cannabis-based products for market authorization as drugs.”