As of January 1, 2023, the Ontario Government is allowing pharmacists to prescribe medications for certain common ailments. Citizens can simply visit a local pharmacy with their health card to access care. Since prescribing is optional, people should call first to confirm that their pharmacy offers this service.
“This service is being provided by the government for all Ontarians to offer people more convenient choices for how they access and receive health care. With a large, province-wide footprint, pharmacist prescribing will also help increase access to care in rural parts of Ontario,” says the Ontario Government website.
The 13 common ailments that pharmacists will be able to write prescriptions for are:
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- Oral thrush (candida stomatitis)
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis; bacterial, allergic and viral)
- Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
- Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD))
- Cold sores (herpes labialis)
- Insect bites and hives
- Tick bites (post-exposure prophlaxis to prevent Lyme disease)
- Sprains and strains (musculoskeletal)
- Urinary tract infections
Alexandria Pharmasave is just one of the pharmacies in SDG that will be offering prescriptions for these common ailments.
“I think its about time because other provinces have been doing it since 2007. The budget has been cut for virtual appointments with physicians, so I think pharmacists being able to prescribe for common ailments will fill the gap. Some of these ailments are time sensitive so being able to see a pharmacist right away will definitely have a major impact,” said Badr Eltoukhi, a pharmacist at Alexandria Pharmasave.
As of December 1, 2022, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) ended the Ontario Virtual Care Funding introduced during the pandemic in 2020 and added certain services provided by video and telephone as insured services under OHIP.
These changes will affect the millions of Canadians who do not currently have a family doctor most, by greatly decreasing funding for virtual-only services which have become popular in the last few years. A doctor who has seen their patient in-person within the last two years can bill $80 for a virtual appointment, but only $20 for video and $15 for telephone appointments with new patients.
According to OMA, these changes are meant to encourage a higher level of care and more in-person visits to physicians.
Giving pharmacists the ability to write prescriptions for common ailments may help offset the funding changes for virtual care and prevent longer wait times in walk-in clinics and emergency rooms that are already struggling to keep up with high demand.
Jean Marie Adescat, pharmacist at the Cotton Mill Pharmacy in Cornwall, agrees that being able to write prescriptions for common ailments will be a good thing and says that this service will be offered at Cotton Mill Pharmacy.
“There are many positive things about this. We [pharmacists] are already qualified but could not do this before because of restrictions. For minor conditions, patients come in, explain their symptoms, and we tell them what medication they need. Then they have to go to the doctor, maybe miss work or leave their family, and wait for hours just to come back and see us with the prescription,” Adescat told Seaway News.