Can a pharmacist prescribe medications for minor ailments?
For many in Ontario, accessing medical care has become increasingly difficult. With the shortage of family doctors, a particularly busy cold and flu season, and general burnout in the healthcare sector, finding the help you need can come with long wait-times and increased frustration, especially for minor ailments.
The good news is that one of your most-accessible health care workers is here to help. Starting in January 2023, Ontario pharmacists have the authority to prescribe certain medications for minor ailments. Say goodbye to frustration, and hello to your neighbourhood pharmacist.
What can be prescribed?
The Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) lists 13 types of minor ailments for which pharmacists can now assess and prescribe medications. These include:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
- Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic and viral)
- Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Cold Sores (herpes labialis)
- Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
- Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
- Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
What will the process look like?
For the minor ailments included, simply visit your pharmacist instead of taking a trip to the doctor. Pharmacists have long been trained to assess patients by asking questions and taking a health history. Your pharmacist may ask you about:
- Type of symptoms and how long they have been present
- Current and past medical conditions
- Lifestyle (e.g., diet, exercise)
- Current medications
While they may have counselled you using this process before, now pharmacists can add an extra step towards providing care, prescribing and dispensing an appropriate medication on the spot.
Why this change?
In some other provinces, pharmacists are already able to prescribe many medications. Pharmacies interact with patients frequently and are in a position to provide ready access to specialized knowledge and medication. There’s evidence that by giving pharmacists the authority to prescribe, they can help cut down on avoidable Emergency Room visits. By having the ability to prescribe, your pharmacist can increase access and decrease wait times for care. After years of increasing demands on our medical system, creating more access for patients is a welcome change.
At Pace Pharmacy, we have always valued our role in going above and beyond for your healthcare. We look forward to expanding our scope to offer prescription services for minor ailments and helping you move towards your best health in 2023.