Pharmacists will be able to Prescribe Medications for Minor Ailments in the New Year

by Mina Karabit May 17, 2022 2 min read

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:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
  • Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic, and viral)
  • Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic, and contact)
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Herpes labialis (cold sores)
  • Impetigo
  • Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
  • Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
  • Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)

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:

  • Usually, a short-term condition
  • Lab results aren’t usually required
  • Low risk of treatment masking underlying conditions
  • Medications and medical histories can reliably differentiate more serious conditions
  • Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

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.

Disclaimer: Our blog is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to your specific case, especially when the landscape is subject to rapid change. The team at Wise Health Law are experts in understanding and navigating the changing health care landscape. Please contact us as we may be able to assist. 

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