June 10, 2021

Shoppers Drug Mart steps up with UBC, BCCSU to improve addiction treatment and care

June 10, 2021. Toronto, ON. Shoppers Drug Mart Inc (“Shoppers Drug Mart”) is stepping up to improve addiction treatment and care for all Canadians by supporting pharmacist training and education led by the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU).

A $2 million gift from Shoppers Drug Mart to the University of British Columbia (UBC) will establish the Shoppers Drug Mart Addiction Pharmacy Fellowship—the first of its kind in Canada—and support the development of pharmacist-focused addiction treatment education at the BCCSU.

Pharmacists can be trained to play a critical role in providing healthcare for Canadians who use substances or have a substance use disorder. Through this philanthropic investment, Shoppers Drug Mart is helping to ensure pharmacists are better trained to support prevention, screening, and access to life-saving addiction medications.

“This is a national problem, affecting our patients, customers, friends and family members. Over the past few years, our pharmacy teams have been called upon to help more and more patients struggling with opioid addiction. We want to continue to be a positive force for change, and believe today’s announcement is another important step,” said Jeff Leger, President, Shoppers Drug Mart.

The fellowship at the BCCSU will be part of the largest addiction medicine fellowship program in North America – which provides training and education for dozens of health care providers each year – helping to mobilize expertise and new knowledge to benefit Canadians who use substances or with an addiction.

“In partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart, the BC Centre on Substance Use is developing a comprehensive pharmacist training program that will mobilize expertise and new knowledge to benefit Canadians who use substances or with an addiction,” says Cheyenne Johnson, executive director with the BCCSU. “By working together, we can achieve our shared goal of expanding capacity within the healthcare system from prevention to recovery to ultimately improve the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities who are impacted by addiction.”

Access to evidence-based addiction treatment has been a longstanding and chronic need in the Canadian healthcare system. And now the need to address the harms of substance use has never been greater.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 19,000 Canadians have died of an overdose since 2016, and in the past year fatal and non-fatal overdoses are occurring at the highest rates ever in regions across Canada. Many of those individuals never access addiction treatment. In addition, as Canadians report consuming more alcohol during COVID-19, harms resulting from high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder are likely to increase. Alcohol use disorder is the most common substance use disorder in Canada, yet it frequently goes untreated and unrecognized, resulting in a high prevalence of disease, social harms and economic costs.

Education and training are critical in raising awareness among health professionals, including pharmacists, on how best to engage with patients, provide life-saving medications and positively impact health services to address substance use-related harms and close the treatment care gap that is leaving many Canadians behind.

“At this time of heightened urgency comes increased responsibility to provide Canada’s frontline health professionals with the knowledge and tools to make a difference in the lives of people affected by substance use and addiction,” says Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of UBC’s faculty of medicine, and vice-president, health, at UBC. “I am excited by Shoppers Drug Mart’s decision to support the BCCSU’s leadership in closing the current evidence-to-care gap to address a devastating health issue that is woven into the fabric of our society.”

Learn More:

Shoppers Drug Mart Addiction Pharmacy Fellowship:

About Shoppers Drug Mart Inc.      

Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing. The company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec). With more than 1,300 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada. The company also licenses or owns 47 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy® (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé® in Québec), and provides cosmetic dermatology services at two standalone The Beauty Clinic by ShoppersTM locations. As well, the company owns and operates 43 corporate Wellwise by Shoppers Drug MartTM stores and an ecommerce site, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services. In addition to its retail store network, the company owns the Medical Cannabis by ShoppersTM online platform for the sale of medical cannabis, Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities. Shoppers Drug Mart is an independent operating division of Loblaw Companies Limited.

About the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

The BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) is a University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Medicine-approved centre with a mandate to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction. The BCCSU seeks to improve the integration of best practices and care across the continuum of substance use through the collaborative development of evidence-based policies, guidelines, and standards. The BCCSU conducts and utilizes research to generate the evidence on which to base clinical care and policy, and education to ensure that evidence is implemented into clinical care practice through clinical guidelines and addiction medicine training. More information at

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