Printer icon Print Page

Expanding Pharmacy Services Could Save Canada’s Health Care System Billions of Dollars By 2035

Ottawa, April 25, 2017—Changes to pharmacy legislation and standards have occurred in the provinces and territories over recent years, creating the opportunity for community pharmacists to take on an expanded role in service delivery. A new report by The Conference Board of Canada estimates that Canada-wide implementation of just three pharmacy services could yield cumulative cost savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years, depending on the level of uptake of these services in the population.

“Pharmacists are an integral part of the health care delivered to many Canadians,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. “They could play an even greater role in ensuring the sustainability of the health care system, if we can further capitalize on their expertise as medication experts and expand the services they provide.”


  • Expanding three community pharmacy services (smoking cessation, advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease, and pneumococcal vaccination) could lead to cumulative savings between $2.5 billion and $25.7 billion over the next 20 years.
  • Scaling up advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease could generate cost savings between $1.9 billion to $19.3 billion.
  • Population health benefits of expanding these services include avoiding cases of chronic disease and premature deaths.

The report, The Value of Expanded Pharmacy Services in Canada, assesses the health and economic impact of three services that are currently delivered within a community pharmacy setting in some provinces, and which have the potential to be implemented across Canada: smoking cessation, advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease, and pneumococcal vaccination.

The largest economic benefits of expanding the selected community pharmacy services would result from scaling-up advanced medication review and management for cardiovascular disease (CVD), with cumulative savings valued between $1.9 billion to $19.3 billion in health care system efficiencies and increased labour productivity by 2035. Providing smoking cessation services could result in savings of $563 million to $5.6 billion and administering pneumococcal vaccination for individuals aged 65 and up could generate savings between $206 million and $761 million.

In addition to measuring the health and economic gains that could result from expanding these services, an important issue of concern for governments is whether there would be a return on investment with the wide-scale implementation of any one or more community pharmacy practice models. A large return on investment is also expected for all three community pharmacy services. The analysis shows that by 2035, for every dollar spent, the direct return could reach up to $2.30 for advanced medication review and management for CVD intervention, $9.10 for smoking cessation, and $72.00 for pneumococcal vaccination.

The population health benefits of delivering these services through community pharmacies include avoiding cases of chronic disease and premature deaths from the primary prevention of cerebrovascular disease and ischaemic heart disease, averted cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction and stroke, and hospitalized pneumonia.

A second report, Getting the Most Out of Community Pharmacy: Recommendations for Action, addresses the policy, practice, and research challenges surrounding the expansion of pharmacy services in Canada.

Opportunities to optimize community pharmacy include enhancing evidence and understanding of impact; addressing the perceived challenges associated with legislation and regulation of the profession; creating supportive operating environments; supporting the monitoring and evaluation of pharmacy practice quality standards; and identifying and implementing appropriate funding models for expanded pharmacy practice.

“With an aging population and increasing budget constraints faced by governments, finding cost effective and scalable interventions to manage illness and offering preventative measures, such as immunization for vulnerable groups, are important strategies to help ensure the financial viability of the health care system and the strength of the Canadian economy,” said Thériault.

Findings from this report will be presented by Louis Thériault at The Economic Club’s Billion Dollar Idea: Expanding Pharmacy Services event today from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

The research for these reports was co-sponsored by The Canadian Pharmacists Association and The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care.

For more information contact

Corporate Communications

Monthly Newsletter

Get updates about Conference Board research and events by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

RSS Feed

RSS Feed  Subscribe to the Conference Board’s News Release RSS Feed

Access Our Research

Access to The Conference Board’s reports is free of charge to professional journalists upon request.

Access Our Experts

We have a team of experienced researchers and economists who are able to comment on current events or share their expertise for news features.

Recent News Releases

Calgary and Edmonton Sweep Top Spots in Economic Growth in 2017

October 17, 2017

Slow and Stable Growth for Halifax Economy in 2017; Stronger Growth Awaits in 2018

October 17, 2017

Solid Growth Forecast for Prairie Cities in 2017

October 17, 2017

Recent Speeches and Op-Eds

Three different dimensions of disruption

October 18, 2017

What immigration target should Ottawa set for 2018?

October 05, 2017

Three challenges facing Alberta amid the province’s new economic reality

September 28, 2017

Connect with Us