In January 2021, we wrote about the expected expansion of the pharmaceutical scope of practice that sought to allow pharmacists to prescribe drugs for certain minor ailments. The provincial government approved the regulations last month, which will come into effect on January 1, 2023.
Now, all Ontario pharmacists will be able to prescribe medications for the following conditions:
The Minor Ailments Advisory Group within the Ontario College of Pharmacists developed the above list following extensive consultation, including its member pharmacists, health system partners, health care professionals, public health experts, and the public. Minor ailments are described as health conditions that can be managed with minimal treatment or self-care strategies. Other criteria include:
Ontario pharmacists will be able to do what pharmacists in eight other provinces have been able to do. The move is being welcomed by the Ontario Pharmacists Association, which has accredited training and refresher educational programs to ensure that pharmacists are comfortable and capable in their assessments and treatment of patients with minor ailments.
The expanded scope will mean improved access to care for Ontarians. Patients will no longer need to visit their primary care providers, walk-in-clinics, or local hospitals. This will alleviate the need for appointments and may reduce wait times in walk-in clinics or emergency departments, allowing other health professionals to focus on more complex care cases.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists has indicatedit will be developing practice resources and guidance to ensure that pharmacists understand their professional and ethical responsibilities in the delivery of safe patient care.
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