Pharmacists can prescribe contraceptives, treatments for minor ailments
Starting June 1, 2023, people in B.C. can get prescriptions from their pharmacist for contraceptives and medications to treat 21 minor ailments, such as allergies, shingles, cold sores, pink eye and uncomplicated urinary tract infections.
“We are delivering on our commitment to give pharmacists the power to provide prescriptions,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Starting tomorrow, people can go to their local pharmacy to get the medication they need for many minor ailments and contraceptives. This not only makes it easier and faster for patients to access these services, it also takes pressure off the primary-care providers and our public health-care system as a whole.”
To access the new minor ailment and prescription contraception service, B.C. residents with a Personal Health Number (PHN) can visit a pharmacy in person or call to schedule an appointment. Starting June 29, 2023, they can also book appointments online.
“Community pharmacists are here and ready to help people in B.C. when they need it,” said Chris Chiew, president of the BC Pharmacy Association. “Across the province, thousands of pharmacists are eager to support patients by using our expertise and training to increase access to care. Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health-care providers in B.C., and we are here for patients when they need us for the treatment of a minor ailment, a prescription for contraception or ensuring they have the medications they need.”
Through the new service, a pharmacist can make an assessment of the patient’s presenting symptoms, check their medical history and recommend an appropriate treatment, which may include self-care advice, over-the-counter medications or prescription medications. Some patients may also be advised to see another health-care provider if the condition is deemed non-minor or if there are other concerns warranting further exams by a doctor or nurse practitioner.
“Pharmacists across the province are ready to take on this expansion of their scope of practice,” said Suzanne Solven, registrar and CEO of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia. “Their education and training, and the new regulations and standards of practice that are now in place will ensure that the public has increased access to safe and professional prescribing services.”
The online appointment booking system will be similar to the Get Vaccinated system that people used to book COVID-19 and influenza vaccination appointments. People will be able to locate pharmacies that offer the service they need, be referred to a self-assessment guide to make sure the service is suitable for them, then proceed to book an appointment with the pharmacy of their choice.
“This new booking system will make B.C. the first jurisdiction in Canada to offer a provincewide online booking system to see a pharmacist, which will make it easier for people in B.C. to see their pharmacist,” Dix said.
The change follows an expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice in October 2022, which allowed pharmacists to adapt and renew prescriptions for a wider range of drugs and conditions, and administer a wider range of drugs by injection or intranasally further to a prescription.
The scope expansion is part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, announced on Sept. 29, 2022, to ensure people get the health services they need and that people are cared for by a healthy workforce. The strategy focuses on 70 actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.
As part of the strategy, the Province is implementing a new family doctor payment model to help more family doctors start or continue their practice; adding more post-secondary training seats for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals; making it easier for internationally educated health professionals to enter B.C.’s health-care system; and adding more supports for people living in rural, remote and First Nation communities, including virtual health-care and travel programs.
To find out about B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0059-001464
To learn about the new minor ailment and prescription contraceptive services available through pharmacies, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/macs#minorailments; or: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/pharmacare/initiatives/ppmac
To learn about universal coverage of prescription contraceptives, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare-for-bc-residents/what-we-cover/prescription-contraceptives#:~:text=Beginning%20April%201%2C%202023%2C%20PharmaCare,The