Canada Blog: CAPhO 2024, Moncton

CAPhO 2024 Moncton – A trip across the Pond, an incredible Canadian welcome, sharing of knowledge, the freshest sea food and a East Coast Kitchen Party!


It’s not every day you get the opportunity to fly to Canada and having never been myself before it was with excitement I arrived at Heathrow for our flight to Moncton, New Brunswick. A 7 hour flight over to Toronto which ironically flew right over Moncton and then a two hour journey back to the East from Toronto to Moncton. Relatively speaking Moncton is actually pretty close to the UK with only a 4 hour time difference and if a direct flight existed this would be around 5 hours.


We arrived the day before the conference started to get some rest ahead of CAPHO which was running from Thursday afternoon until Sunday. Having managed to get a good nights sleep I felt ready to go for our first day in Canada and I decided it would be a good idea to explore whilst going for a run. I ran westwards upstream next to the “Chocolate river” (it gets its name due to its brown colour which is from the giant tides which cause this river to rise and fall meters multiple times a day and stirs up all the silt). It was so quiet as I barely saw a soul as I trudged along to river view which neighbours Moncton and then back across the bridges and down the high street. Moncton downtown is where the conference was being hosted and where most of the restaurants and bars are clustered.

We registered for the conference and had a quick look around to familiarise ourselves with the different rooms and exhibition areas. The Canadian welcome shone through straight away as the team from Sea Sky were super helpful in getting us registered and sign posting us to the relevant areas. It was then time to check out some of the excellent fresh sea food and a few of the local craft beers from the microbreweries before turning in ahead of the first full day of CAPHO 2024.


The Friday session opened strongly with the shot of espresso session which was an informal discussion about relevant topics served with a freshly made espresso by the barista outside. Highlights of this session for me was the in depth discussion around drug drug interactions. It was noted that patients on CDK4/6 Is are generally on an average of 8 medications – greatly increasing the risk of problematic DDIs and polypharmacy. With the recent loss of the Liverpool cancer drugs interactions website this is a real problem. The CAPHO team have a solution as they have released a brand new DDI guide which I am hoping to share with the BOPA membership soon. There is the potential for this to be included in an online resource at some point in the future as well.

Networking was the order of the day as we met the other exhibitors and fellow delegates as the welcome reception was opened amongst the posers. It was really interesting to learn from colleagues in Canada about some of the challenges they face. It felt that recurring theme was the issue of funding treatments at a provincial level after approval is given nationally by Health Canada. Once this stage is completed each Province then has to complete their own funding approval process with varying timelines leading to a real variability in when treatments are available in which province.


Saturday was another full day of sessions with some real highlights. The first session I want to mention was delivered by the inspiring Francoise Mathieu who talked about how to stay well whilst working in Oncology. This session was so important as it discussed the risks HCPs all face working in fields such as Oncology where they are exposed to secondary traumatic stress. Understanding that this is happening was the first important lesson with techniques discussed to manage this. I want to thank Francoise for delivering this important topic and delivering it in such an engaging way. She is truly an amazing speaker.


A further session which resonated with myself was delivered by a pharmacist from Michigan called Bernie. As a member of the common sense in Oncology (CSO) movement he discussed the really difficult situation we are at currently with the methodology employed by new clinical trials with questionable endpoints for drugs which are extremely expensive and giving little real benefit to patients. A staggering statistic about drug approvals in the US is that the average overall survival benefit now for all SACT drugs is only 3 months. It would be really interesting to average this same number in the UK. The take home message is that we are spending ever increasing amounts of money for drugs which are giving patients less time whilst we have large parts of the world where much more cost effective drugs are not available to the majority of patients. It is time to refocus the priority! Critical appraisal of clinical trails was seen as a key strategy to address this to ensure that we as pharmacists always have a critical eye when reviewing the data and methodologies.


It was a great honour to be invited to the presidents lunch to speak to members of the CAPHO committee and fellow international colleagues. There was a lot of positive conversation about the current conference in Moncton and an excitement for the next instalment which is partnered with ISOPP in Victoria next year.


The Ai session delivered by Sean Hopkins was really well executed. A primer on Ai giving us a plethora of use cases that pharmacy professionals could and should be using Ai for. Its at our finger tips already and readily available for use. The real kicker – the entire presentation and talk was written by Ai! That was an eye opener for everyone in the room as it clearly demonstrated how good this technology already is. There was also discussion about the poster submitted by Sean and his team which had also been written by Ai. Ai really is the next industrial revolution and it going to enhance all of our practices going forward. I think as a profession we need to learn how to use it effectively and jump in the deep end. There is so much opportunity to optimise our processes and reduce our overheads with repetitive tasks which can easily be managed by Ai.


The sessions wrapped up for the day and it was time for the CAPHO fun run along the river. A nice 5k route to see if we could spot the tidal bore which unfortunately was note the case – however it was great to get out and stretch the legs again and chat to fellow runners. There were at least 20 runners to the bar is set high for BOPA this year (all though it may be next to the Canals and not a river in Birmingham 2024).

The East coast kitchen party was next as the CAPHO committee had decided to move away from a more formal dinner and instead embraced an East coast tradition. I had never heard of a kitchen party before – however it was described to me as a party at someone’s house where everyone ends up congregating in the kitchen. Now I recognised this from the house parties we have in the UK. It was a great event with incredible live music by “BAND” and a dance floor which was full from start to finish. A real party which was enhanced by the beautiful and brightly coloured New Brunswick flag jacket which Glenn was kindly letting everybody try on!

And then it was Sunday – closing sessions and round table discussions which led to the close of an incredible long weekend in Canada. I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming. We felt at home straight away due to everyone being super friendly and coming over to say hi to the UK guys. I want to thank the committee and Sea sky for organising such a great conference and I look forward to hopefully seeing everyone in Victoria next year!


Time to get back on that plan to London!



Bastiaan Buijtenhuijs, April2024

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