Andrew (Drew) is a licensed Ontario pharmacist and graduated from the University of Toronto. Since then he has had roles as a community pharmacist, pharmacy owner, educator, and worked on national health and wellness programs for a leading pharmacy chain. He is also a certified HIV pharmacist.
He is passionate about sexual health, addiction care, mental wellness, and LGBTQ2+ health. Most recently he was the pharmacist-owner of pharmacies in central Ontario and had an opportunity to expand many services in the area.
Last year he launched the #JustAsk campaign connecting local parents and youth to information and resources in response to changes in the provincial sexual health curriculum. Through his efforts in this field he was recognized in 2019 with a national pharmacy award. He has always stressed the importance of educating everyone no matter their background or risk factors to improve understanding and fight stigma.
His prior pharmacies became the regions only designated Safer Space pharmacies and the local go-to pharmacy for LGBTQ2+ related programs and services. The team there was proud to take part in Pride festivities, marching in the parade and providing education at these events. In addition, Andrew has taken part in community outreach initiatives and provides information sessions on LGBTQ2+ health to several organizations. He regularly publishes information and presents nationally to other healthcare professionals on LGBTQ2+ outreach in practice. For all of this work the pharmacies were recognized by Simcoe Pride as Business of the Year.
Andrew is a part-time faculty member of a regulated pharmacy technician program in central Ontario where he teaches pharmacology and physiology. Through this he educates his students on HIV topics and specifically the U=U message. Every year 100 students become prepared to go back to their hometown communities across the province to further spread awareness.
It was through Andrew’s experience operating the regions only pharmacy-affiliated PrEP clinics that he realized the importance to expand services to all Ontarians. He recognized there were a lot of individuals that either did not have access to a doctor, faced discrimination in access, or were seeking added discretion. The online access he has launched through The PrEP Clinic helps to overcome these barriers.
Most recently Andrew co-authored an education course on PrEP and PEP available to the over 40,000 pharmacists in Canada to learn more about this important medication and also fight stigma. He was also recently featured as one of three University of Toronto pharmacy alumni in their “I’m Pharmacy” campaign to show the important work of pharmacists across the country: https://pharmacy.utoronto.ca/news-announcements/im-pharmacy-overcoming-hiv-stigma-health-care
Andrew is known for his authenticity and being dedicated to improving the lives of patients. Most recently he was voted as “Favourite Pharmacist” in the Reader’s Choice Awards. In his spare time Andrew likes to read, stay active, and check out live music. He is a proud guncle of his nieces and nephew and lives in Barrie, Ontario.
Q + A with Drew
What sparked you to open this type of service?
The official spark was a year ago when I had a conversation with someone who wanted to start PrEP but lived far from my pharmacies. They were considering driving over 2 hours to our clinic, ended up not being able to, and I wished at that moment there was a solution. I have also had personal negative experiences in accessing care in this specific health field and didn’t want others to go through that.
Why do you think stigma still exists in 2020?
I think it comes down to lack of awareness in many cases and I also think some people don’t realize how harmful just a small action or few words can be. I’m very focused on spreading the message to as many people as possible and to folks of all different backgrounds. We’re fortunate there are lots of amazing organizations and people out there who are also working hard to slay stigma every day.
You do a lot of clinical work – are you a doctor?
I am a registered pharmacist but maximize my role through collaboration with prescribers to provide optimal care. Some pharmacists may also have a newer “PharmD” degree but pharmacists are not allowed to market themselves in Ontario as a “doctor”.
What are your pronouns?
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Genuine, empathetic, and creative
Do you have any pets?
I would like to spoil an adorable pup one day but for now I am the proud guncle of a friend’s Shih Tzu named Chance (the cute one looking a little wet in their bath!)