How pharmacists help people achieve better health outcomes, including avoiding risks of opioid addiction


When it comes to healthcare, many of us might not realize how important pharmacists are. And yet, pharmacists are often the most accessible members of a person’s healthcare team, and they play a critical role in maximizing health outcomes, preventing medication errors and reducing costs.

First off, pharmacists, including Express Scripts Canada (ESC) pharmacists, are uniquely positioned to oversee the complete medication profile of a patient from a number of prescribers. Pharmacists not only dispense medications they also provide guidance that helps patients accurately and effectively take prescribed medications. This includes discussing medication safety, identifying and managing side effects, and assisting in the management of chronic health conditions. Pharmacists also monitor a patient’s adherence or compliance to drug therapies through regular follow-ups. This allows for progress evaluation, support and early detection of adverse effects.

By carrying out this important work, ESC pharmacists positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients through education, research and clinical expertise. ESC pharmacists also have condition-specific expertise, allowing for an unmatched depth and breadth of care. By helping patients better understand their conditions, what their medications do and how to take them, ESC pharmacists, and other pharmacists alike,  can help prevent and resolve medication-related problems including adverse drug interactions. In doing so, their support can contribute to a decrease in emergency room visits and hospital admissions, prevent abuse and misuse of medications, and reduce the risk of drug therapy problems.

Helping tackle Canada’s opioid epidemic

As Canada’s foremost pharmacy benefits manager, ESC has pharmacists working across our organization including areas such as data and analytics, product development and clinical solutions. They help to create innovative programs for Canadians such as our Opioid Management Solution. While opioids are powerful pain relievers, they also pose a risk of dependency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after just 10 days on a prescription opioid, 20 per cent of patients become long-term users. Because ESC can identify when an individual first claims an opioid, we can positively intervene through our Opioid Management Solution in an effort to make the use of opioids safer for our clients’ plan members and to help address Canada’s opioid epidemic.

Since the pandemic began, North America’s opioid crisis has only gotten worse, due to a number of factors including increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety, and limited availability of services for people who use drugs. This makes the ESC Opioid Management Solution that much more crucial.

Our solution proactively manages a wide range of opioid users by placing limits on the quantity and type of opioid prescribed for people who are new to opioid medication. Essentially, our solution shifts first-time opioid users to safer, shorter-term prescriptions. Doing so minimizes early exposure and prevents progression to overuse and misuse.

ESC’s Opioid Management Solution is just one example of the many ways that pharmacists play a vital role in addressing the needs of all Canadians while understanding the significance of caring for one person at a time. So don’t hesitate to reach out to your ESC pharmacist with questions and concerns about medications, chronic conditions and the like. We’re here to help.