Canadian pharmacists say they would like seniors to understand more about their prescription medications and make sure they're not mixing the wrong drugs. But they say there isn't a consistent system across Canada that allows pharmacists to conduct medication reviews, and they'd like to see that changed.

Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP, the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, would like more Canadians to be able to sit down with a pharmacist for periodic medication review. But they say that even in the provinces that fund the reviews, many patients don't realize they're available to them.

A one-on-one medication review has several goals. The first is to ensure that patients are not taking medications that could conflict.

Toronto pharmacist John Papastergiou says that can happen when patients visit several doctors or several pharmacies and either forget or don't inform each pharmacist about what they are currently taking.

A review can also spot possible interactions between prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and natural health products or supplements.

Pharmacists can also counsel patients about why each medication is important to their health and address any problems they might be having with their prescriptions or their dosing. This is important, they say, because medication non-adherence costs the health care system at least $7 billion a year.

"Most of our provincial governments have begun to recognize the benefits and have instituted funding for this important pharmacy service," Domenic Pilla, president of Shoppers Drug Mart said in a statement Tuesday.

The problem, he says, is that medication reviews are funded in only eight of the 10 provinces. As well, only certain patients can access them.

Seniors in New Brunswick and P.E.I., for example, taking three or more medications are eligible for one medication review per year. But in British Columbia, patients need to be taking five medications, and can have two reviews per year.

The pharmacists say they would like to see consistent criteria across the country and are calling on the premiers meeting in Charlottetown for the Council of the Federation this month to address the issue.

They'd also like to see more promotion of medication reviews, so that patients know they are available and that they are free.