WHAT’S NEW TO ONTARIO PHARMACIES
As of January 1st, 2023, Ontario’s pharmacists are now able to assess and prescribe medications for minor ailments aka common conditions such as cold sores, uncomplicated urinary tract infections, hemorrhoids, pink eye and more (see the FAQs for a complete list of eligible conditions).
This means you can visit your pharmacist and receive the necessary care, including a consultation and treatment for your ailment, all in one appointment.
Answers to commonly asked questions about Ontario’s new Pharmacy Minor Ailments Program are outlined below. Contact your University Pharmacy pharmacist for more information.
For which minor ailments can Ontario’s pharmacists assess and prescribe medications?
Minor ailments, also known as common conditions, can be managed with minimal treatment and don’t require blood or lab testing for assessment. Even though short-term, some of these conditions can negatively impact your daily routine and quality of life.
Pharmacists in Ontario will be able to assess, recommend and prescribe treatments for the following minor ailments:
- Bacterial skin infection (impetigo)
- Cold sores
- Eczema and allergic skin rash
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Insect bites and stings
- Joint and muscle pain
- Menstrual pain
- Nasal allergies (i.e., hay fever)
- Pink eye (due to allergies or bacteria)
- Thrush (fungal infection of the mouth)
- Tick bites (Lyme disease prevention)
- Urinary Tract Infection (uncomplicated)
Pharmacists are highly educated healthcare providers and medication experts whose university training prepares them to assess and treat these minor ailments.
I always speak with my pharmacist about my health concerns. How is a minor ailment consultation different?
A minor ailment consultation is a scheduled appointment with a pharmacist during which you will discuss your symptoms, medical history and other relevant factors to select the most appropriate treatment course for you. A more detailed assessment is undertaken as your pharmacist now has more potential treatment options to draw from and will be responsible for monitoring the outcomes of the recommended treatment.
This consultation may result in the pharmacist recommending non-drug measures to help alleviate your symptoms, an over-the-counter medication or an eligible prescription medication.
If your pharmacist feels your condition is more serious, requires additional assessment or requires treatment by a medication that pharmacists are not authorized to prescribe, you may be referred to a physician.
How can I access this minor ailment consultation service at my pharmacy?
A minor ailments consultation can be booked with your Pharmasave pharmacist by contacting your local pharmacy. They may direct you to an online appointment scheduling platform, or they may schedule an appointment with you over the phone at a mutually convenient time.
A minor ailments consultation may take place in-person or virtually (i.e., via telephone or a web-based platform), depending on the nature of your condition and the pharmacist’s professional discretion.
What about my family doctor?
A minor ailments consultation is part of ongoing medical care provided by your team of healthcare providers, which may include a family doctor, pharmacist, specialists and other healthcare professionals. Pharmacists are required to notify your family doctor, should you have one, about the details of the minor ailments consultation and treatments recommended to facilitate continuity within your circle of care and ensure your medical record is complete.
The expanded role of pharmacists gives you an alternative, timely option for accessing healthcare services; your family doctor remains an important part of your circle of care as pharmacists can only assess and prescribe for select conditions. Earlier involvement of a pharmacist in your care means more serious conditions can be differentiated from minor ones, and you can be referred to the appropriate healthcare provider for additional assessment and treatment as needed.
How much does this service cost, and who is eligible?
This service is covered by the government for individuals with a valid OHIP number. For those individuals without coverage, a service fee will be charged.
As a note, the costs discussed above are for the actual ‘assessment’ service. In cases where an over-the-counter treatment option is recommended, the medication cost would be additionally charged. Drug plans recognize Pharmacists as prescribers; therefore, in cases where prescription medication is prescribed, your drug insurance plan, should you have one, may cover the cost of the prescription.