A new model of pharmacy

October 16, 2017 The Tablet

In-depth consultations for all patients and a focus on deprescribing sets BioPro Biologics Pharmacy apart.

“BioPro Pharmacy is a new concept. In my mind, it’s really what pharmacies should be doing,” says Alan Low, Pharmacy Lead at BioPro Biologics Pharmacy in Vancouver and Clinical Associate Professor at UBC's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Opened in February 2017, BioPro offers a tailored pharmacy experience in the busy health corridor of the Broadway and Oak Street area in Vancouver, near Vancouver General Hospital and several prominent medical towers. In fact, about 500 doctors and 12 pharmacies practice within a 300-metre range of BioPro.

Part of a health-care team

The team is conveniently located downstairs from ARTUS Health Centre, which includes a rheumatology clinic with nine rheumatologists and an onsite infusion clinic. BioPro often calls patients ahead of their initial specialist appointment to schedule an in-person consultation where they review all the patient’s medications and share them in a joint EMR for the patient's rheumatologist appointment; they may also note medication issues for the specialists.

Once the prescription is filled, the pharmacists follow up, generally within five days to assess the patient’s response, monitor for effectiveness and address any concerns.

“It’s been very helpful,” says Dr. Jonathan Chan, a rheumatologist. “I thought I was curing people with my compounds. Thanks to their follow up with patients, I got some great feedback. The small adjustments they made to the patient’s medication really helped.”

Kevin Wang, pharmacist at BioPro, appreciates being part of a patient-centred health team. “After doing a thorough review of medications with a patient, we
will often go to the doctor with the patient and discuss what the best course of action is as far as prescribing,” he says.

Each patient has at least a half-hour consultation with one of the pharmacists in a polished copper and wood private consultation booth. “We want to ensure patients are well educated about their medications,” Low says. Part of this education includes hosting in-pharmacy talks on topics like vaccines and skin care.

“We may deprescribe medications or even prescribe non-conventional therapies like apps for people’s mobile phones,” adds Aaron Sihota, another pharmacist on the team. “It can lead to some great successes.” In some cases, a plan is created to taper off and remove unnecessary medications.

Helping patients access biologics

The pharmacy also helps patients with biologics, a class of potent anti-inflammatory medication genetically engineered from proteins. These powerful drugs can be very effective in treating rheumatological conditions, but can result in harm if not carefully monitored and used appropriately.

“People can shy away from this class of medication because they can be very expensive and can also be dangerous, if not life threatening. We spend a lot of time talking to them, setting expectations, and supporting necessary treatment,” Wang says. “We also liaise with the various patient support programs and health benefit companies. We have a system to deal with the hassles of reimbursement to make sure that treatment required is affordable and accessible.”

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.