05 Aug

INSTI HIV test available at Pharmacy BC locations

August 5th, 2016

Earlier this summer, the royal family’s very own Prince Harry shared images of himself having the INSTI HIV test performed on him, that was broadcast on social media live on The Royal Family‘s Facebook page.

Following in the footsteps of his late mother, he has taken a stand in the fight against AIDS and HIV, saying that he publicly received the test in order to reduce the stigma that surrounds getting tested, and to promote the idea that everyone should get tested in order to stop the spread of the virus. 

It’s within this context that we are so pleased to say that we have received the evaluation for our ‘Pilot Pharmacy Point of Care HIV Testing’, and we are thrilled with the results! Across all four participating pharmacies it was found that the provision of point of care HIV testing is feasible in the long term, while providing real value to patients. Enabling our pharmacies to perform the rapid INSTI test in-pharmacy has proven to be an effective means to promote ever-greater HIV testing within our communities, lending momentum to the fight against AIDS/HIV. 

If our pilot program and its success tells us anything, it’s that greater access and availability of HIV tests will result in more testing – which means more people being enabled to take control of their health, and to stop the spread. So it’s with great pleasure that we applaud bioLytical’s breakthrough with the European Union – their INSTI HIV Self Test has been approved for over the counter sale across Europe, and will be available in stores later this year. The test can be administered by the patient themselves, and provides accurate results in less than a minute using a simple finger prick. This is a major blow to AIDS/HIV, and will inspire ever-greater rates of testing across Europe. 

PharmacyBC/The Medicine Shoppe is committed to improving and supporting our communities and their health. That is why we have rolled out several innovative service programs, such as: ‘Pharmacy with Care’, where we provide a suite of medication services provided by professional nurses; HealthTab, which enables you to complete a number of routine health tests – such as blood glucose tests – right in our pharmacies and allows you to access your results on a mobile device; and our INSTI rapid HIV tests. For more information about these programs and our other services, please visit our website at:

bioLytical’s mission is to improve the quality of people’s lives by providing innovative solutions for infectious disease diagnosis, the first step in the linkage of patients to appropriate care and treatment. bioLytical’s vision is to be a global leader in the research, development and commercialization of rapid, point-of-care in vitro medical diagnostic devices. Biolytical pursue’s novel ways of engaging with diverse healthcare systems to maximize access to  innovative technology platform and products. To learn more about bioLytical, their products and services, please see their website at:

28 Nov

CTV: Canadian pharmacies testing do-it-yourself blood test kiosks

November 28th, 2015

Several pharmacies in Canada, including have begun installing do-it-yourself blood testing kiosks to help patients quickly check up on their health using just a tiny amount of blood. But not everyone thinks the testing systems are a good idea.

Ten pharmacies in British Columbia are now offering one blood testing system called HealthTab, which was developed by a pair of brothers from Vancouver.

After a pharmacist collects a few drops of blood from a finger prick, the sample is placed in a HealthTab machine which can then measure up to 21 key health markers, including cholesterol, triglycerides, kidney and liver function, blood sugar and more.

There’s no need for a doctor’s requisition, although there is a fee to use the system. But the company says it can offer results in just 15 minutes rather than days, with an accuracy that’s on par with most lab testing.

Users don’t need to return to their doctors for the results; the system automatically uploads them to a secured website, where users can log in from home or from their phone to see their numbers. Results are colour coded in green, orange and red to help patients clearly understand what’s within a normal range.

HealthTab co-founder Roger Seccombe says the system helps put health care back into the hands of patients.

“We want people to become more proactive and more engaged in how they manage their health,” he told CTV News.

“…We know we can do this by significantly improving the accessibility we have to these key (tests) for chronic disease.”

The blood test technology was developed by NASA years ago, Seccombe says, and it’s already in use in hospitals and testing labs in the U.S.

His company created the interface that brings the technology directly to patients, and has Health Canada’s permission to begin installing its kiosks into pharmacies.

“We’re the first in Canada using this device in pharmacies in a direct-to-patient model,” Seccombe said.

The company is now hoping to bring the system to more pharmacies outside of B.C., with their sights set on Alberta and Ontario next.

HealthTab is one of several companies moving to bypass traditional medical labs to allow patients to monitor their own health. But some worry about the trend.

Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis, a biochemist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, says he’s concerned that many patients will not understand how to read their results and will unnecessarily develop anxiety about the results.

“It could be a good thing for people who are educated and know how to see and interpret the results. It may not be a good thing for the average person who gets results and are confused about how to interpret them,” he said.

He also worries pharmacists may not have the training to be able to answer patients’ questions, nor will they know a patient’s full medical history to put the results into context. He’s also concerned that patients won’t follow up with their doctors.

“They could be assured they are healthy when a disease might be ensuing or the other way around: they may think they have a disease when nothing is going on,” he said.

Diamandis says the “self-care idea” is simplistic, and is not convinced it will improve overall health. But HealthTab’s Seccombe calls systems like his are “the way of the future” and rather than replace traditional lab testing, his system is meant to complement it.

21 Aug

Omni News: PharmacyBC begins pilot to offer HIV tests to customers (Video)

August 21st, 2014

Pharmacists at two Vancouver Medicine Shoppe pharmacies, located at 2030 Kingsway Ave. and 6180 Fraser St., is now offering customers a rapid HIV test. Customers will know their test results on the spot in less than five minutes. During a year-long pilot, pharmacists trained by HIV nurses from VCH and PHC will offer customers an optional HIV test for free. Each pharmacy is located next to a Pacific Medical Walk-in Clinic where doctors will provide support to patients and link them to care and treatment, if required.

See the coverage here (Starts at 2:03 mark in video).

11 Aug

The Province: Sharad talks to Bob Rai of

August 11th, 2014

Starting this month, pharmacists at two Vancouver Medicine Shoppe pharmacies, located at 2030 Kingsway Ave. and 6180 Fraser St., will offer customers a rapid HIV test. Customers will know their test results on the spot in less than five minutes. During a year-long pilot, pharmacists trained by HIV nurses from VCH and PHC will offer customers an optional HIV test for free. Each pharmacy is located next to a Pacific Medical Walk-in Clinic where doctors will provide support to patients and link them to care and treatment, if required.

“B.C. is recognized as a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS and I believe that through bold action and smart investment we can remain leaders,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “This pilot is another step forward and will go a long way to improve early diagnosis and save lives.”

“People can now get an HIV test while they are waiting for their prescriptions,” said Dr. Réka Gustafson, medical health officer and medical director, Communicable Disease Control, VCH. “Offering HIV testing at more locations like your local pharmacy helps normalize testing and reduces the stigma around it so that it’s more acceptable to people to get tested.”

Feasibility and effectiveness of the pilot will be evaluated over the course of the year before determining next steps. The pilot is being funded through the Province’s Seek and Treat for the Optimal Prevention (STOP) of HIV/AIDS program—a program focused on better reaching and engaging British Columbians in HIV prevention, testing and care. The HIV tests offered as part of the pilot will be free-of-charge to the patient.

“This is the first time a pharmacy in Canada is offering HIV tests to its clients,” said Bob Rai, pharmacist and co-owner of the two Medicine Shoppe pharmacies. “We’re happy to try something innovative in an effort to help people live healthier lives.”

VCH and PHC hospitals were the first in Canada to offer routine HIV testing. More than 60 patients in Vancouver hospitals have tested positive for HIV since the program began in October 2011. These patients would otherwise not have known they were infected. Prior to these pilots, usually only those at high risk for HIV such as those who use intravenous drugs were offered the test.

“We see too many people who are newly diagnosed with HIV, but are already in the advanced stages of the disease,” said Dr. Gustafson. “We can’t stress enough how very crucial early treatment is for those infected. While HIV is a chronic infection, early treatment prolongs and improves people’s lives and reduces transmission to others.”

This pilot project will determine whether HIV testing in pharmacies can complement existing HIV testing programs. Through the STOP HIV/AIDS program, HIV testing has been expanded throughout Vancouver and is available at community testing sites, hospitals, walk-in clinics and through family physicians.

An HIV positive person on their prescribed medication is up to 96 per cent less likely to transmit the infection. It is estimated there are 3,500 people in British Columbia who are infected with HIV but don’t know it.

29 Jul

National Post article about PharmacyBC’s HIV Pilot Program

July 29th, 2014

Free HIV tests at Vancouver pharmacies part of pilot project to reduce stigma around screening

VANCOUVER — Two Vancouver pharmacies will soon offer customers free HIV tests that will provide results on the spot in less than five minutes.

Pharmacists at the Medicine Shoppe drugstores have been trained by HIV nurses from Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care to provide testing as part of a year-long pilot project.

See the full article here

29 Jul

The Globe and Mail article about PharmacyBC’s HIV Pilot Program

July 29th, 2014

Nearly-instant HIV test to be available at two Vancouver pharmacies

Two Vancouver pharmacies have launched a pilot project offering free rapid HIV tests that tell people within five minutes if they have the virus.

Reka Gustafson, medical director of communicable disease control at Vancouver Coastal Health, said Vancouver has made some progress in recent years when it comes to expanding HIV testing, but there is room for improvement.

See the full article here