Feds invest in innovative tele-pharmacy solution

OAKVILLE, Ont. - The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology), has announced an investment to Patient Care Automation Services Inc. (PCAS) from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

PCAS is the developer of the PharmaTrust MedCentre, a telepharmacy dispensing and primary care system. The system is designed for applications in hospitals, pharmacies, medical clinics, workplaces and other locations, providing patients with convenient and safe access to prescription drugs.

The funding supports an innovative research and development project that will assist PharmaTrust in the development of its telepharmacy/primary care system and network.

"Our government is investing in science and technology to create jobs, strengthen the economy and improve Canadians' quality of life," said Minister Goodyear. "These two projects will put Canada at the forefront of pharmacy technology and benefit people around the world."

This $1.5 million contribution will support the Oakville-based company in hiring product development and engineering staff for two projects. The first is furthering the development of the company's telepharmacy and primary-care platform technologies. The second supports the development of advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies that will help the company meet market demand in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S.

"Investing in science and technology is critical for developing highly skilled people and improving the long-term competitiveness of Canadian firms," said NRC President Dr. Pierre Coulombe. "That's why NRC-IRAP is helping innovative Canadian businesses like PharmaTrust grow stronger, faster and bigger."

To use this system, customers insert a prescription or pick up a phone, and via a videoconferencing system, speak to a pharmacist or physician. To dispense a medication, pending the pharmacist's authorization, the machine verifies a medication's barcode label, an RFID (radio-frequency identification) tag, the medication's DIN (drug identification number), lot number, expiry date, storage profile, photographs, video and weight.

The MedCentre then presents the results of all tests to the pharmacist who reviews them and finishes by consulting with the patient before deciding whether or not to dispense the medication. Patients can pay with their drug plan card, cash, credit or debit.

Patients benefit from the convenience and enhanced safety of PharmaTrust, while it translates into cost savings for the healthcare system. Currently, trials are taking place at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, under the supervision of the hospital's pharmacy; there are production sites at the Albany Clinic, in Toronto, and Cambridge Memorial Hospital, in Cambridge, Ont.

The system is under evaluation as a pandemic response platform by researchers at the University Health Network and the company has also just recently received approval to deploy its system in select locations in the UK.

"We think that our dispensing system is the way of the future. It's going to take some time to get there, but with the help of NRC-IRAP, we hope to revolutionize the dispensing and management of prescription drugs in Canada and around the world," explained Peter Suma, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of PharmaTrust.

About NRC and NRC-IRAP
The NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) provides a range of both technical and business-oriented advisory services along with necessary financial support to qualified innovative Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises. The program is delivered by a field staff of 240 professionals in more than 100 communities across Canada. NRC-IRAP is committed to working with small- and medium-sized enterprises while they realize their full potential, turning knowledge and innovation into strategic opportunities, jobs and prosperity for all Canadians. The Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan has provided new resources of $200 million to NRC-IRAP over the next two years to support innovative Canadian firms. To learn more about Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.

Posted October 22, 2009