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Pink eye? Cramps? Starting Jan. 1 Ontario pharmacists can prescribe treatments for 13 common ailments

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As of Sunday, Ontarians will be able to get a prescription for more than a dozen common ailments from a pharmacist, skipping a trip to the doctor.

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People seeking a prescription for conditions ranging from pink eye to urinary tract infections will need “just their health card,” the government said in a release Wednesday, adding it “will come at no extra cost.”

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The move speeds up access to care and brings it closer to home, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Sylvia Jones said in a media release Wednesday. The government touts pharmacist prescribing as making care more convenient, increasing access in rural areas and freeing up doctors for more complex needs and reducing wait times.

Pharmacists will be able to offer prescriptions for:

  • hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • oral thrush (candidal stomatitis)
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis, bacterial, allergic and viral)
  • dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
  • menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea)
  • acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • hemorrhoids
  • cold sores (herpes labialis)
  • impetigo
  • insect bites and hives
  • tick bites (post-exposure treatment for Lyme disease)
  • sprains and strains (musculoskeletal)
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)

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“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,” Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said in the government release.

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

Ontario pharmacists can also prescribe Paxlovid to people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes with more information online about who’s eligible and how to find a local pharmacy that is dispensing the anti-viral medication.

A common ailment is defined as a health condition that can be “reliably self-diagnosed” and that needs only self-care or minimal treatment, the government said. Most provinces allow pharmacists to prescribe medication for minor ailments and conditions, although what’s included varies by province.

Ontarians were advised to check with their local pharmacist that they offer the service before a visit.

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