As of January 1st 2023, licensed pharmacists in Ontario have been given the go-ahead to assess patients who present with certain minor ailments, and offer treatment options including prescribed medications.
The program, similar to those which have been running successfully in other provinces for years, is designed to improve access to timely health care options for less severe ailments. The pharmacist assessments under the Minor Ailments program are covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan.
President & Director of Pharmaright Pharmacy Inc., a small, independent, northern Ontario pharmacy chain, Adam Chappell explains how the system benefits local patients: “There are a lot of patients in The Soo who simply don’t have a family doctor and we have a limited number of walk-in clinics that tend to be very busy. These minor ailments can be dealt with in the pharmacy, rather than going to the emergency department. This program will offload some patients from emerge, and reduce congestion at walk-ins.”
Those patients can now receive a no-cost assessment at Pharmaright Pharmacy with no appointment needed for a slew of minor ailments.
Under this new directive by the Ontario College of Pharmacists and Ontario Ministry of Health, pharmacists in Ontario may prescribe medications for a number of mild ailments including:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Oral thrush (candidal stomatitis)
- Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic and viral)
- Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
- Acid reflux (Gastroesophageal reflux disease/GERD)
- Cold Sores (herpes labialis)
- Insect bites and hives (urticaria)
- Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
- Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
The Minor Ailments Assessment by a pharmacist is available to anyone with a valid Ontario Health Card, regardless of age, and the assessment is provided free of charge. So, just like visiting your regular health care provider, the cost of the assessment will be covered by OHIP. Any medications prescribed will be paid for by the patient or their insurance plan and prescriptions can be filled at any pharmacy the client prefers.
Qualified Ontario pharmacists are allowed to prescribe certain medications subsequent to an assessment if appropriate. “The assessment may or may not lead to a prescription,” Chappell explains. “Treatment may be non-pharmacological, or if there are ‘red flags’ or an indication of something more complicated going on, we refer to a healthcare practitioner.”
Everyone is welcome to drop in for a minor ailment assessment and receive a prescription if appropriate – even if they are not a current Pharmaright Pharmacy customer.
This new Minor Ailments program builds on the expanding scope of pharmacists, in Ontario.
Pharmacists already have the authority to extend, renew, or adjust prescriptions, without having to wait for prior approval of the original prescribing healthcare provider.
Chappell says that “our pharmacists routinely extend prescriptions for our clients if they are without refills and the prescriber cannot be reached in a timely fashion. Of course, this is at the sole discretion of the pharmacist working and must be appropriate and safe for the client. This extended authority is aimed at improving the continuity of care and ensuring patients do not experience unnecessary consequences going without their medications when their healthcare providers cannot be accessed.”
Clients wishing to transfer their prescriptions to Pharmaright Pharmacy will find the process quick and easy, says Chappell. “It’s really as simple as a phone call to our pharmacy to transfer your prescriptions over. All you need to do is call us, tell us your name, date of birth and the pharmacy you’re currently using, and we do everything.” The transition is fast and secure.
Chappell welcomes patients to stop in at 688 Second Line East, call (705) 949-5050 or follow them on Facebook to learn more about the Minor Ailments program.
“Being an independent pharmacy, we pride ourselves on providing very personalized care and our pharmacists are very accessible. I invite anyone who has one of the minor ailments listed and is having trouble reaching a healthcare professional, to drop in and speak with one of our pharmacists.”
Pharmaright Pharmacy is open weekdays from 9am to 7pm, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm. Walk-in assessments are available during regular business hours without an appointment.