Dar Santos: The future of pharmacy

October 16, 2017 The Tablet

September marks the start of the BC Pharmacy Association’s fiscal year, and I am honored to be the president of the Board of Directors for 2017-2018.

I have been on the BCPhA board for four years, and we have accomplished a lot under some very strenuous conditions. Continued pressures because of government drug pricing, audits by public and private plans, as well as changes in College regulations have made for a challenging past few years, with no reprieve in sight. Nevertheless, the BCPhA persists and works hard on behalf of pharmacists and our profession. We are making a difference.

The highlight of my board tenure to date was meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and proudly representing BC pharmacists at an opioid crisis roundtable held in Vancouver in February. This meeting yielded some valuable connections with other health-care professionals and first responders. It enhanced the pharmacist’s role in helping address this crisis. Most recently, this led to the logical step of improving distribution of naloxone kits through community pharmacies.

We have also recently had a large step forward for pharmacists — a step into new territory. Through RxOme, a joint venture between BCPhA and myDNA, pharmacies and pharmacists can now offer pharmacogenomics testing, and provide professional advice to patients based on the results. I strongly encourage all pharmacists to look into this unique and expanded role for pharmacists.

What does the future bring? Certainly, pharmacogenomics is an exciting area that will continue to grow. The pharmacists’ role in the opioid crisis is likely to expand, simply out of necessity as all allied health professionals will need to step up to tackle this problem. I also hope for great collaboration with the College of Pharmacists of BC and the Minister of Health on issues that affect pharmacies, pharmacists and patients. We need to move ahead with advancing our scope of practice, as a necessary step in sustaining economic viability of our profession, and easing the pressures of rising health costs.

As president, and as a pharmacist who dispenses and sees patients every day, I will continue to deliver the thoughts and perspectives of a day-to-day pharmacist, as I have for my past four years on the board. Whether in discussions with the College of Pharmacists, UBC's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Ministry of Health, or internally on the board, this is the lens that I see through. I see the great work that pharmacists are able to achieve every day, and I envision what pharmacists will be able to do in the future.

Finally, I want to express my appreciation and thanks to the 2017- 2018 board for their hard work, and our past-president Randy Konrad, for his steadfast leadership. I look forward to working with you all this year. I want to welcome our new board members, Annette Robinson, Keith Shaw and Shawn Sangha. I am looking forward to a productive 2017-2018.

Alex Dar Santos is the President of the BC Pharmacy Association.

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.