Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Where's my Prescription Summary, Shoppers Drug Mart?

When I first saw the new Shopper's Drug Mart prescription receipt I did not understand what I was seeing. It changed to a label the size of a name tag with the backing still on it. I could peel it off but then what would I do? Maybe the idea is that I start a prescription scrapbook? 

I mentioned the difficulty I anticipated trying to save these slippery labels with 5 point type for my income taxes and my pharmacist said that I could ask for a list of the dollar value of my prescriptions every year for income tax purposes. That's a service that can help me, BUT I still need and want the listing of my last 20 prescriptions.

For me that list has been an essential tool. With it I can accurately give details of my medications to doctors. I also use it to list medications on forms at the hospital and in the Emergency Department. On Twitter yesterday some doctors said they also use those lists to go over medications with their patients, especially those who don't really know the medications they're taking.

Yet now that feature has been withdrawn with no notice, and no concern for patients, caregivers, doctors and customers.

Burden of care is added to by having no list.

When I look at the Loblaws Corporate website I see Chairman Galen Weston saying "We understand the breadth of our impact and influence." I appreciate that sentiment but wonder how many doctors and patients were consulted about this change that has a fundamental effect on my ability to manage my drugs and prescriptions.

I like the idea of the patient, family doctor and pharmacist as the basic unit for regular health management and decision making. But now, at the same time as Shoppers takes on more health services such as flu shots and Med Checks for profit, they are stepping back from the patient's needs.

My pharmacist responded to the problems I raised with:
"We all change and we expect our customers to change too." 
"You have to manage by yourself somehow." 
"Our expectation is that the patient will keep track of their medications."

Excuse me Shoppers, I am a highly literate patient and that is just one of the areas where I have challenges. Luckily at this moment I am not in a crisis but many of your clients are struggling with their health. Many of us stagger from crisis to crisis.

What about our aging population, people with low vision (Did I mention the 5 point type on the receipt?), and the more than half of Canada's population who are not health literate? 

Another statement on the Loblaw's website (Loblaw's owns Shoppers) is this:  "Our strong commitment to corporate social responsibility defines the way we do business and the role we play in society."

These statements do not match the Shopper's Drug Mart withdrawal of their useful and traditional prescription lists. 

I hope they will look for a solution to this problem which is either happening to us now, or will soon be apparent at a Drugstore near you if you are a Shopper's Drug Mart customer.

This is the top section of the form we will no longer be receiving.

Added after another visit to Shoppers: The pharmacist was able to produce a list for me on two full sheets of letter size paper that covered fewer prescriptions than the small summary of 20 that I am used to. Not convenient for me to carry and keep with me but at least I can use it for renewals. Not a solution, but as a stopgap it will help, though it required a lengthy conversation with the pharmacist before I was able to get that printout.


  1. If you are able to access your prescription records through the store's website, you may also be able to print your own list. Here in the US, I'm able to print my prescription history through Fred Meyer's pharmacy website (an affiliate of Krogers). I always use that list at tax time to make sure I have all of the pharmacy receipts.

    BeckyJo in WA state

    1. Thanks for the info Becky Jo. At this point I don't know of any pharmacies in Canada where we can log in to see our own prescriptions.That makes so much sense!!
      Shoppers Drug Mart is the biggest chain in the country with 1200+ stores This new software that takes away my list might well be getting the chain closer to that type of accessibility for clients but I don't know. It's a guess on my side. I always use the receipts at tax time. They make a difference.

  2. Great article Annette. Over here in the UK we are still given a slip with each prescription we collect of all of our currently supplied medications. Also your article has reminded me to redo my list that I carry in my handbag, in multiples to hand out to specialists and dentists etc.

    1. Thanks Gilly, That slip is exactly what I want. Maybe the system designers lost sight of the end users. A pharmacist I spoke to felt she was also the end user of the system and was not considered.
      Leaves you wondering who it is designed for, doesn't it?

  3. When Shoppers sold to Loblaws it was a decision that senior management made that went something like this: "Dear Shareholders, we can no longer maximize your investment in the pharmacy business. So the best option now is to get your money out of pharmacy because the retail pharmacy model isn't profitable anymore. Its all about food, cosmetics and chocolate. Pharmacy is now going to be gobbled up by the foodie industry." And it came to pass that a food giant bought Shoppers. Consumers of pharmaceutical products are going to have to find friends on the sinking ship of retail pharmacy if they ever want to have their voice heard. There are some drumbeats on the horizon. Keep your ears pricked.

  4. I'll be watching for signs Zal. Shoppers Drug Mart told me that there was risk in having those drug summary lists as they did before. However the replacement they offered is labelled "Patient Medical History" and goes into far more detail about my medications. I wonder how many stores have this new system so far?

  5. I just transferred all of our prescriptions away from Shoppers bc of the receipt problems. We are unable to read the minuscule font, faint ink that smears bc it can’t adhere to the glossy label. Our insurance provider couldn’t decipher them either and wouldn’t reimburse us. The owner of our Shoppers said it’s standard practice across all Shoppers and can’t be modified. Bye bye Shoppers. You’ve lost our long standing business.