Health Canada approved Shoppers Drug Mart’s application to dispense medical cannabis to patients last week, opening the door for smaller cannabis companies to integrate pharmacies into their business models.
The company admits the deal is subject to the “implementation of federal, provincial and territorial legislation in Canada” which permits the sale of cannabis products such as capsules through pharmacies.
Health Canada’s decision to approve Shoppers Drug Mart is a precedent-setting decision, however, outlining the importance of pharmacies in the dispensation of medical cannabis.
“Once legislation is implemented, pharmacies will require a solution to support the health of patients through the use of cannabis. The Pack4U system creates a seamless process for pharmacies to participate in the care of the patients without the burden of carrying inventory.”
-Chris Williams, Director of Business Development of Pack4U
GTEC Holdings’ new partner, Pack4U, will exclusively list the medicinal cannabis products of GTEC Holdings and its subsidiaries for purchase on its website. The exclusive deal extends until January 31, 2020.
GTEC Holdings’ new partner aims to free pharmacists from the time-consuming job of packaging medication, allowing them to “shift focus from pharmacy operations to patient-centered care.”
Pack4U acts as an intermediary between medication wholesalers and pharmacies. The company packages the medication themselves, delivering the pre-packed pills to the pharmacy.
GTEC Holdings says it hopes to enlist the company’s extensive connections with pharmacies to expand its patient networks. Pack4U operates in both Canada and the US and has distribution and packing centers in Florida and Ontario.
In addition to facilitating online drug purchases, the company sells products which use automation to minimize time spent packaging drugs and maximise face-to-face interactions with customers.
Pack4U’s spencer® in-home dispenser, for example, takes pre-packaged medications and dispenses them whenever a new dose is required, reducing the risk of missing a dose.
The role of pharmacies in medical cannabis
On their website, the Canadian Pharmacists Association has called for continued pharmacist input into the legislation surrounding medical cannabis, even after recreational legalization on October 17.
The association says it worries that once recreational cannabis is legalized, customers may be pushed to the recreational markets, limiting medical expertise and input.
“If easier access pushes patients to the recreational cannabis stream, they risk losing all medical oversight and increase their chances of complications.”
-Canadian Pharmacists Association
Additionally, pharmacists “need to ensure that medical cannabis patients are supported and protected through a distinct medical stream, and incentivized to continue to use this stream once recreational cannabis is legal,” says Phil Emberley, director of practice advancement and research with the CPHA.
With its newly announced partnership with Pack4U, GTEC Holdings is signalling its commitment to the medical cannabis industry and the importance of health-care professionals in its administration.
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