Ontario Pharmacists Can Now Provide Prescriptions for 13 Ailments, Including UTIs
As of January 1st, 2023, Ontario pharmacists have the ability to prescribe medication for 13 ailments, eliminating the need for Ontarians to see a doctor before they can access treatment.
Pharmacists are now equipped 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 (GERD))
- cold sores (herpes labialis)
- insect bites and hives
- tick bites (post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease)
- sprains and strains (musculoskeletal)
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
For people with disabilities, getting to a doctor’s appointment can be challenging with transportation, long wait times to be assessed by their GP and more time waiting at pharmacies for prescriptions to be filled for common ailments. Moreover, for those with SCI or other disabilities that lead to neurogenic bladders, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) can be a common occurrence that may lead to further infection and even hospitalization – the ability to access treatment from local pharmacies has the potential to better support people in the community who would otherwise need to plan a long and potentially stressful trip to the doctor’s office, all while in pain, a frequent need to urinate and no guarantees of an accessible washroom nearby.
To be successful, strong partnerships need to be established between pharmacies and health practitioners. SCI is a complex condition and many UTIs with neurogenic bladders can be challenging to treat. Best practice suggests when experiencing symptoms of UTIs, it is critical that blood work and bacteria cultures are prescribed prior to determining medication. In SCI, there is not a clear first line of defense of antibiotics to support a UTI.
This new capability for pharmacists can help remove barriers for those with disabilities, potentially enabling a quicker recovery and return to routine when proper consultations happen with expert clinicians in SCI.
We also know that many people with disabilities in Ontario live below the poverty line. While the documentation of this new pharmacy program that empowers pharmacies with more responsibilities identifies supports through OHIP coverage, it is unclear whether there will be additional out of pocket expenses within this new program. We hope that this new program is not a means to put more cost burden on people with disabilities.
There are concerns in the community that although the change means quicker and easier access to treatment, it is a “quick fix” solution that doesn’t account for the underlying issues of Ontario’s health care system, including the lack of access to primary care. Moreover, without the direct need for a doctor’s involvement in obtaining prescriptions, there is room for misdiagnosis, prolonged ailments and health issues. Even with UTIs, the body can stop responding to antibiotics if frequently taken, or not matched with the right antibiotic to cure the UTI, leading to potential secondary complications.
The change is effective as of 2023, and over half of Ontario pharmacies are offering the service, which to our knowledge, requires only an Ontario Health Card with no further expenses.
“Providing efficiency and supports at the right place and right time with urgency is essential to the health and well being of people with spinal cord injuries,” says Peter Athanasopoulos, SCIO’s Director of Public Policy. “As secondary complications in SCI can occur rapidly, it is imperative that optimal services and supports are consistently provided. The new pharmacy program can bring great opportunity to establish better partnerships with health care providers to create more pharmacy prescriptions. However, if these critical partnerships are not created with SCI clinicians, the new pharmacy program can unintentionally create harm. We hope that in the development of this new pharmacy program, these factors have been considered.”
Call your local pharmacy to find out whether they are now prescribing medication for the above listed ailments. SCIO is optimistic about this change, and hopes to see an improvement, especially in UTI care, but encourages our community to consult with SCI clinical experts before engaging immediately with the new program.