The provincial government has made B.C. the first province in Canada to offer free prescription contraceptives to all women. Starting June 1, participating pharmacists will be able to write prescriptions for contraceptives as well as for 21 minor ailments. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

B.C. pharmacists to treat minor ailments, prescribe contraception as of June 1

Covered minor ailments include allergies, acne, cold sores, pink eye and shingles among others

Starting June 1, participating pharmacists in B.C. will be able to write prescriptions for contraceptives and 21 minor ailments such acne, pink eye, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infection, among others.

Chris Chiew, president of the BC Pharmacy Association, said Wednesday (May 31) at an announcement in Vancouver that almost 80 per cent of the 1,400 community pharmacies in B.C. will start offering that service.

Chiew said patients often ask pharmacists for treatment of minor ailments.

“This exciting new change means that we have more treatment options and can provide greater care for patients when and where they need,” Chiew said. He was joined by Health Minister Adrian Dix and Suzanne Solven, chief executive officer of the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.

Chiew said the more 1,100 pharmacies offering this service operate in communities large and small across the province.

B.C. residents with a personal health number can visit pharmacies in person or call to schedule an appointment to access the new service. Starting June 29, British Columbians can also book appointments online.

Dix said the scope expansion is part of the government’s four-pillared approach to improve the provincial health care system. He added that the new service will not only make it easier and faster for patients to get medications when and where they require them.

“It takes pressure off their primary care providers and the primary health care system as a whole, allowing nurse practitioners and physicians and other health care workers to focus on more complex health care needs,” he said.

RELATED: B.C. to become 1st in Canada to give free prescription contraception by spring

Thursday’s change builds on previous changes that allowed pharmacists to inject certain medications, announced in September 2022 and effective since October 2022.

Other changes allowed pharmacists to adapt and renew prescriptions for a wider range of drugs and conditions.

Dix said he expects 750,000 patients to benefit from the service during its first year of implementation.

Pharmacists and community pharmacies have stepped up to help the health care in exceptional ways, he said.

Solven said a multidisciplinary committee that included doctors and nurses helped to set standards for pharmacists, who had to take a training module to get ready for the roll out.

“They have been providing assessments and recommendations to patients to treat their minor ailments with over the counter products for many, many years,” Solven said.

“Now, with the expanded scope to provide treatments that require a prescription for uncomplicated ailments and contraception, pharmacists have more options to offer to their patients.”


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