Quick Relief: How Ontario Pharmacists Can Now Prescribe for 19 Minor Ailments

Quick Relief: How Ontario Pharmacists Can Now Prescribe for 19 Minor Ailments
Ontario pharmacists can now see patients for consultation, assessment, and prescribing medications for 19 minor ailment conditions.

Pharmacists in Ontario are set to play a more significant role in healthcare through an expanded scope of practice that allows them to prescribe medications for minor ailments. This initiative aims to improve accessibility and efficiency in healthcare by utilizing pharmacists' expertise to manage common, non-serious conditions that do not require a doctor's attention.

What is a minor ailment?

According to the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP), minor ailments are described as health conditions that can be managed with minimal treatment and/or self-care strategies. Additional criteria include:

  • Usually a short-term condition
  • Lab results aren’t usually required
  • Low risk of treatment masking underlying conditions
  • No medication or medical history red flags that could suggest a more serious condition
  • Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

Minor ailments include a range of conditions such as allergies, insect bites, and minor infections. By allowing pharmacists to prescribe for these conditions, the healthcare system can reduce the burden on primary care providers, shorten wait times, and provide patients with quicker access to necessary treatments.

OCP outlines that pharmacists are well-positioned to handle these responsibilities due to their extensive training and knowledge in pharmacotherapy. To ensure quality care, pharmacists must follow specific guidelines and protocols when assessing and prescribing for minor ailments.

This change is part of a broader trend to utilize pharmacists' skills more effectively and to streamline healthcare delivery, benefiting both patients and the overall system. For more details on this initiative, you can visit the Ontario College of Pharmacists' official page.

What are the minor ailments that I can consult with a pharmacist?

In January 2023, pharmacists in Ontario were authorized to prescribe medications for 13 minor ailments. This later on expanded in Oct 2023 to a total of 19 with the addition of six new conditions. Here is the list:

  1. Acne
  2. Allergic rhinitis
  3. Aphthous Ulcers (canker sores)
  4. Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
  5. Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic and viral)
  6. Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
  7. Diaper dermatitis
  8. Dysmenorrhea
  9. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  10. Hemorrhoids
  11. Herpes labialis (cold sores)
  12. Impetigo
  13. Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
  14. Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
  15. Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
  16. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy
  17. Pinworms and threadworms
  18. Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
  19. Vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast infection)

Take a moment to learn more information about each of these conditions to help in identifying common symptoms, treatments, dietary considerations and understanding some of the potential complications when minor ailments are left untreated.