FeatureSports & Health

Pharmacists can prescribe for common ailments

Beginning January 1, pharmacists can prescribe medications for 13 common medical ailments, including hay fever, pink eye, sprains and strains, and urinary tract infections, saving you a trip to your doctor’s office or walk-in clinic.

Pharmacists can also prescribe for oral thrush, eczema, menstrual cramps, acid reflux, hemorrhoids, cold sores, impetigo, insect bites and hives, and tick bites to prevent Lyme disease. The service is covered by your health card.

The 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,” says Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.

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

A common ailment is a health condition that can be reliably self-diagnosed and managed with self-care strategies and/or minimal treatment, the provincial government reports. Anyone with symptoms should contact their local pharmacist to confirm they provide prescribing services before visiting the pharmacy.

You can also visit a local pharmacy for a Paxlovid prescription, an antiviral treatment option used to reduce severe outcomes from COVID-19. Visit ontario.ca/antivirals for more information on eligibility and to find pharmacies that are dispensing the medication.

All pharmacists across the country can assess common ailment symptoms and recommend self-care or over-the-counter treatments. Pharmacists in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and now Ontario can also prescribe medications for some minor ailments.

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