Ontario set to allow pharmacists to directly prescribe some medications

Published December 28, 2022 at 10:35 am

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Ontario residents who need treatment for such common ailments as pink eye, hay fever, acid reflux, hemorrhoids, urinary tract infections, cold sores and more will soon be able to go directly to a pharmacy for medication. 

The Province recently announced that as of Jan. 1, 2023, Ontarians will be able to stop in at pharmacies to receive prescriptions for thirteen common ailments with just their health card. 

This means that residents will not have to see a doctor for a prescription first.

“Stopping by your local pharmacy for quick and easy access to treatment for some of your most common ailments increases your access to the care you need closer to home,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, in a statement. 

“Expanding the ability of pharmacists to provide care is one more way we’re putting people at the centre of our health care system, making it easier, faster and more convenient to access health care in their community.”

According to the province, pharmacists will be able to offer prescriptions for:

  • hay fever
  • oral thrush 
  • pink eye 
  • dermatitis 
  • menstrual cramps
  • acid reflux
  • hemorrhoids
  • cold sores
  • impetigo
  • insect bites and hives
  • tick bites (post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease)
  • sprains and strains
  • urinary tract infections

In a news release, the Province said the move will allow doctors to dedicate more time to patients with complex needs. 

Anyone with symptoms is advised to contact their local pharmacist to confirm whether they can directly prescribe medication for certain common ailments (meaning health problems that can be self-diagnosed and managed at home) before visiting the pharmacy.

These changes are being made in partnership with the Ontario College of Pharmacists.

“Empowering pharmacists to use their expertise to assess and treat minor ailments helps patients get the care they need sooner and closer to home – but the benefits go much further,” said Justin Bates, CEO, Ontario Pharmacists Association, in a statement. 

“It reduces demand on hospitals, emergency departments, walk-in clinics and family physicians. It also frees up time for our healthcare partners, allowing doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to focus on more complex care cases.”

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