e-Therapeutics released, for doctors
TORONTO – Assisted by $8.8 million in development funds from Health
Canada, the Canadian Pharmacists Association has launched a web-based
medication management tool that’s designed to offer quick
decision-support at the point of care.
The CPhA calls it “a second opinion from Canadian experts on what works,
when – that you can consult anytime, anywhere.”
Dubbed e-Therapeutics, the system enables physicians, nurses,
pharmacists and other practitioners to check on various drugs, obtain
warnings about possible interactions with other medications and herbal
remedies, and view ‘best treatment’ options for a wide variety of
All of this is presented in a Canadian context, with Canadian drug
names, and advisories and alerts from Health Canada.
Care-givers can use the system through the e-Therapeutics web portal or
on handheld computers, like the Palm or Pocket PC.
“It’s important to note that the information is unbiased, that it’s not
coming from a drug company,” said Janet Cooper, senior director of
professional affairs at the Canadian Pharmacists Association. As such,
said Cooper, healthcare professionals can have confidence in the service
as a trusted source of information.
Cooper spoke at a launch event for e-Therapeutics, held in Toronto in
She said e-Therapeutics is the result of a three-year project that
involved nearly two dozen developers, along with some 200 pharmacists,
nurse practitioners and physicians. “We received feedback from them in
pilots, and built their recommendations into the system,” said Cooper.
The system was developed with the assistance of IBM Canada and the
College of Family Physicians of Canada. Major resources – which have
been incorporated into the solution – include the CPHA’s publications,
• “The Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties” (CPS). According
to the association, this is the definitive Canadian source of drug
information. It contains nearly 3,000 current product monographs,
including 108 drug or drug-class monographs prepared by CPhA, quick
reference drug information and clinical tools, directories of sources of
drug and healthcare information, a list of discontinued products and a
comprehensive crossed-reference index of generic and brand names.
• “Therapeutic Choices”, which offers comparative and evaluative
information on treatment options on 118 common medical conditions. Data
are organized in a clear and concise format, including decision trees,
tables and a comprehensive index.
• Lexi-Comp’s Lexi-Interact, providing comprehensive drug-to-drug,
drug-to-herb and herb-to-herb interaction information.
“When it comes to appropriate therapies, the system shows when various
classes of drugs are appropriate, and whether drugs are needed at all,”
said Cooper. “It’s evidence-based, and it shows the sources of the
Moreover, she said e-Therapeutics also notes the costs of various drug
therapies. “Doctors often don’t know the costs for many medications, or
if a generic is available.
Some generics can be 10 times or 20 times less expensive,” adding that
cost is an important issue for patients and the healthcare system, in
Dr. John Maxted, associate director of the College of Family Physicians
of Canada, said “there have been changes in the way physicians practice
medicine in recent years,” with doctors constantly looking up
information. “They need to access information as quickly as possible,
while seeing patients.” For that reason, he believes e-Therapeutics will
become a valuable addition to the tools used by primary care physicians.
“Instead of browsing through heavy textbooks, we can go online,” said
Information about the service is available at
It’s a subscription-based service; individuals can subscribe for
$389 per year.
Because it uses industry standards, the system is designed to integrate
with various electronic medical record systems. However, actual
integration with leading EMRs hasn’t yet been accomplished.
In the future, e-Therapeutics might be used to double-check current and
proposed therapies for a patient’s medical condition while a physician
is studying the chart.
Wayne Lepine, director of pharmaceutical policy for Health Canada, said
the e-Therapeutics project is expected to lead to healthcare renewal, to
improvements in patient safety through the use of technology.
Canadians now use approximately $25 billion worth of medications
annually, and it is a problem to ensure they are used appropriately.
Various Canadian and U.S. studies have pointed out the high levels of
medication error that currently exist.
“The Health Council of Canada has recommended that we look for solutions
to increase the accuracy of prescribing,” said Lepine. For its part, the
Canadian government has also been developing a national pharmaceutical
strategy. “This could provide one conduit,” said Lepine.
Neil Stuart, practice leader for IBM, also highlighted the patient
“There’s a gap between what we know [about medications] and what we do
in practice,” said Stuart. “The e-Therapeutics application gets
knowledge to the point-of-care, and helps close that gap.”