Ontario is making it more convenient for people to connect to care closer to home by allowing pharmacists to treat and prescribe medications for thirteen of the most common medical ailments, including rashes, pink eye, insect bites and urinary tract infections. This new service is in addition to pharmacists being able to renew prescriptions for most medications, such as blood pressure, diabetes and asthma medication.
Since the beginning of the year, almost half of Ontario’s 4,700 pharmacies across the province have already started offering this service and more are expected to start participating in the coming weeks and months.
“Ontario’s pharmacies have been tremendous partners in helping to keep our communities safe and healthy,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Pharmacist prescribing builds on our government’s historic investments to expand our hospital infrastructure and grow our health workforce. We are connecting Ontarians to more convenient care, closer to home.”
As with visiting a family physician or walk-in clinic, there is no extra cost to Ontarians for receiving a prescription from a pharmacist for common ailments when showing an Ontario health card. The cost of the medication being prescribed will continue to be paid for by people directly or through their drug benefits plan.
“Expanding the ability of pharmacists to provide care is one more way we’re putting you, the patient, at the centre of our health care system, making it more convenient to access health care close to home,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “I encourage people to check with their local pharmacy to see if they are offering this quick and easy access to treatment for some of the most common ailments.”
Pharmacists can now offer prescriptions for:
- hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- oral thrush (candidal 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 prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease)
- sprains and strains (musculoskeletal)
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Allowing pharmacists to prescribe for these common ailments and renew prescriptions makes it easier for Ontarians to receive the care they need, while offering patients additional choices for how they receive health care. Individuals should speak to their pharmacist about whether they are able to renew other medications. Depending on their policy, pharmacies may charge a fee for this service.
With a large, provincewide footprint, pharmacist prescribing and renewals is helping to increase access to care in rural parts of Ontario. In addition to providing more convenience, this will also help free-up doctors’ time to provide care for more complex needs, helping to reduce wait times in primary care settings, walk-in clinics and emergency departments.
- A common ailment is a health condition that can be reliably self-diagnosed and managed with self-care strategies and/or minimal treatment.
- The majority of Ontario residents live within five kilometres of a pharmacy, which makes them one the most-accessible health care touchpoints within the broader health system.
- There are more than 4,700 pharmacy locations across Ontario many open early/late or even 24 hours.
- Anyone with symptoms should contact their local pharmacist to confirm whether they provide prescribing services for certain common ailments before visiting the pharmacy.
- This change builds on pharmacists’ current knowledge, skills and judgement to recommend over-the-counter medications and allows physicians to focus on the more complex health care needs of their patients.
- These changes have been made in partnership with the Ontario College of Pharmacists and are in line with other provinces across the country.
- Pharmacists in most other provinces are also able to prescribe for certain minor ailments.
- Ontarians can now also visit local pharmacies for Paxlovid prescriptions. Visit ontario.ca/antivirals for more information on eligibility and to find local pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid.