On January 1, 2023, Ontario started allowing pharmacists to prescribe medication for 13 specific minor ailments.1 This is a big step forward in allowing access to care for Ontario residents. It could provide more convenience for your members and more productivity for your organization.
What is a minor ailment?
You might wonder exactly what a minor ailment is. Generally, these are conditions that can be self-limiting (resolve on its own) and be reasonably self-diagnosed. Most of the time these conditions can be managed with minimal treatments or self-care strategies. And lab tests are not usually needed to prescribe medication for these minor ailments.1
Ontario pharmacists are now able to prescribe for these 13 minor ailments:2
- 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 or GERD)
- Cold sores (Herpes labialis)
- Insect bites and hives
- Tick bites (post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease)
- Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
- Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)
Why make the change?
The concept of pharmacists prescribing is not new and has existed in other provinces, such as Alberta, for several years.3 This new expanded scope for pharmacists allows for better access to all Ontarians.
The Ontario government expects the change to make health care more convenient for most residents. The government states that the majority of Ontario residents live within five kilometres of a pharmacy, which makes them one the most-accessible health care touchpoints within the broader health system.2
The change was made in partnership with the Ontario College of Pharmacists, and there are more potential benefits to the wider health care system. Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association said, “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.”4
Benefits for you and your members
These may be minor ailments, but they still have an impact on your employees. These illnesses likely reduce employee productivity if they work through the ailment (presenteeism). Or employees may have missed work completely to seek treatment at a clinic (absenteeism).
The average Canadian worker is losing 41 days a year due to absences and presenteeism, according to Manulife’s 2021 Wellness Report.5 Quicker access to care and treatments could prevent small ailments progressing into complicated conditions and could reduce some of that productivity loss.
Let your members know that pharmacists can now prescribe medications for these minor ailments so they can take advantage of the change.
Frequently asked questions