Skip to content

B.C. pharmacists gain increased discretion in prescribing

New pharmacist responsibilities a win for patients
Vrushali Bhatt, Pharmacist and Associate Owner of Shoppers Drug Mart in Smithers. (Deb Meissner photo)

Pharmacists across B.C. will soon have a broader range of abilities to help clients with their overall health needs. This includes administering injections and prescribing medications for minor ailments and contraceptive products.

Beginning April 1, prescription contraception will be free for all British Columbians under the Medical Services Plan (MSP), including the morning after pill. People will no longer need to consult a physician for a prescription for contraceptives.

The MSP-covered contraceptive products will include oral contraceptives, hormonal and copper intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormone implants and injections, and emergency oral contraceptives. Copper IUDs and some additional products will be added to the PharmaCare formulary on April 1.

The move will make B.C. the first jurisdiction in Canada to do so.

“Since the fall of 2022, pharmacists have been able to renew more prescriptions, administer more injections that have a valid prescription, and these changes are helping reduce the burden on primary healthcare providers in the province,” said Vrushali Bhatt, Pharmacist and Associate Owner of the Smithers Shoppers Drug Mart.

“We welcome Health Minister Adrian Dix’s announcement that B.C. pharmacists will soon be able to prescribe contraceptives and treatments for minor ailments,” Bhatt said.

Minor ailments would include conditions like cold sores, acne, allergic rhinitis, to name a few, along with the medication for the conditions.

“Prescribing is subject to the prescriber’s discretion and assessment of the patient’s condition. If any signs of complexity or risk are detected, the patient will be referred to a physician or another suitable health care professional ,” Bhatt said.

“There will be a lot more discretion on the pharmacists’ behalf for what we can do, while offering the best overall healthcare to our patients, which is very exciting,” Bhatt exclaimed.

READ MORE: Health care, housing and grants top B.C.’s 2023-24 Budget Day promises

The authority to administer not just vaccines, but most prescription injections, is something pharmacists have been advocating for, giving them the ability to administer everything from B12 injections to long-lasting medications such as antipsychotic medication, all previously requiring a visit to the doctor’s office.

Responsibility for higher risk medical conditions, narcotic and controlled substances would still be under the authority of a physician to prescribe.

“But it’s a really good start in the right direction,” Bhatt said of the new responsibilities.

“Our common goal as health care professionals is to serve the community and improve the quality of life of our patients. This benefits everyone involved,” she explained.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter