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Misleading advertising: “free” vs. “no charge”

April 1, 2014

Patients may not have to pay out of pocket for a CACP or SMMA, but that does not mean the services are free. Advertising them as such has two negative repercussions.

What’s wrong with using “free?”

1) It violates the Pharmacy and Drug Regulation. Section 24(1)(a) of the Pharmacy and Drug Regulation stipulates that, “A licensee and a proprietor must ensure that advertising in relation to a licensed pharmacy is not false or misleading.” If a third party is paying for the service, it is not free and patients should be aware that there is a cost to their health plan and the province. 

2) It potentially devalues the professional expertise pharmacists provide. Done properly, care plans and medication management assessments involve pharmacists’:

  1. Skills in assessment;
  2. Knowledge of medications, potential interactions, and drug therapy problems; and
  3. Time to review and interpret appropriate information (e.g., Netcare, lab results), document, and collaborate with other members of the patient’s health team.

Not instilling in patients that these professional services require knowledge and skills unique to pharmacists and have great worth does a disservice to the profession.

Originally published in April 10, 2014, issue of The Link