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MedSask celebrates 50 years with funding announcement

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The provincial helpline for pharmacists and patients celebrated 50 years on Thursday, and a funding announcement helped mark the milestone celebration.

This year, the province is committing nearly a million dollars to medSask, the medication information service located at the University of Saskatchewan.

“Today, we congratulate medSask on their 50th anniversary,” said Everett Hindley, minister of health. “And I am proud to announce that this year, the government of Saskatchewan is providing nearly $993,000 towards this valuable service.”

MedSask answers questions about medications and other healthcare topics to both physicians, pharmacists, and the general public.

Jim Blackburn was one of the original pharmacists to help create medSask. He was at the celebration to comment on its evolution over the last 50 years.

“It really was a great program that I think did so much,” said Blackburn, the former dean of pharmacy at the University of Saskatchewan. “Not only for pharmacists and physicians but for the public in providing consumer drug information.”

Blackburn said medSask helped bridge that gap between physicians, pharmacists, and patients.

“There were the links both ways, but in those years we hadn’t really done a good job of bringing all three together,” he said.

In addition to answering medication questions for Saskatchewan residents, medSask has created guidelines and procedures for different topics that are used in jurisdictions around the world.

One pharmacist with medSask said today’s patients are more educated about their medications, and they’re more hands-on about their health.

“People want to know about their health, they want to know about their medications,” said Kelly Kizlyk, medSask pharmacist. “That’s what medSask is poised to answer. And it’s not just done, here’s your pills, take them and we’ll talk again in a couple months’ time. People want to know more about their medications, what they’re doing for them, what they’re doing to them.”

The announcement includes $288,000 more than last year’s base funding, as well as $305,000 to support expanded training and resources for pharmacists.

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