News

November 27, 2018

National pharmacy experts conduct rigorous product evaluations contributing to risk mitigation and safe medication management

Over two days, a cross-country, multi-disciplinary group of frontline pharmacists, technicians, nurses, risk managers and buyers from seven provinces and the territories conducted a hands-on product evaluation of hospital pharmacy medications.

Reducing the number of adverse medication events starts with reducing opportunities for those events to happen, says Debra Merrill, Director, Pharmacy Program, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. “From packaging to barcodes to ampoule size, conducting an objective, practical product evaluation is critical to ensuring that only safe and high-quality products are selected for HealthPRO contracts.”

The product samples are submitted as part of HealthPRO’s 2019 General Trade RFP – one of the largest in its history with more than 3,500 line items.

“It took 32 hospital and pharmacy stakeholders two days to evaluate all 3,500 line items. It would be virtually impossible to do this as an individual hospital,” says Wendy Simoens, Drug Distribution System Support Pharmacist, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.  “And that doesn’t even include all of the work done by HealthPRO beforehand including preparing and posting the RFP, collecting the samples, and creating strategy recommendations for each product.”

The criteria used to evaluate products are based on the most current Health Canada Labelling and Packaging guidelines, Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) safety recommendations, and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists (CSHP) professional practice standards.

The elements evaluated included:

  • the presence of a barcode to improve traceability
  • clarity of information on the unit-of-use
  • print size and style to ensure ease of legibility
  • appropriateness of packaging for use in the hospital drug distribution system


The results of the product evaluation process will be incorporated into the scoring of bids received for the Pharmacy General Trade RFP.  The contract awards meeting with PAC members will be held in January 2019, with the newly awarded contracts to begin June 1, 2019.