The services listed in the text below may vary from province to province.
However, even if your pharmacist cannot prescribe or extend a prescription, he or she will certainly be able to advise you and help you choose the best product for your situation.
Pharmacists are highly accessible front-line healthcare professionals. What if they can help you even more than you thought?
Pharmacy: a changing profession
Needless to say, pharmacists have come a long way since the days when they were called apothecaries. Their profession has changed a great deal over the centuries, and particularly in recent decades.
Over time, pharmacists have become true experts not only in medication, but also in health in general. Their skills and accessibility make them excellent front-line resources in the healthcare system.
Many people believe that a pharmacist's job is simply to dispense medication. In fact, their roles and responsibilities extend much further than that!
Have you ever observed a pharmacist while you wait? What do they do? What do they think about? Rest assured that their minds stay busy to ensure that you receive the best treatment. These treatments must be appropriate and safe for you..
Laws that have opened doors
In recent years, significant legislative changes have transformed the role of pharmacists. In fact, new laws have broadened their scope of activities, in particular to include becoming prescribers. This represents an incredible step forward for them, and for the public.
Bill 41 passed in June 2013 and Bill 31 passed in March 2020 have ensured that pharmacists can now engage in activities that improve patient care and facilitate access to it. They have also increased the impact of pharmacists and their contribution to the healthcare system, as they can now better meet the growing needs of the population!
Let's see how this new reality of pharmacy can be practical and beneficial for you. Let's start with the issue of treatment adjustment. When you take a medication, it is often necessary to adjust it, notably by changing the dose, in order to reap the full benefits of the treatment.
Are you experiencing a side effect or is the prescribed dose too high? Pharmacists can now, on their own, make a downward adjustment, depending on the case. On the other hand, do you have the impression that the medication is not working, or that your response to the treatment seems insufficient? Your pharmacist can then optimize the medication, after evaluating the situation.
In some cases, they can make this adjustment themselves, and in others, they must contact the prescriber. In one way or another, this service saves you time and energy, but more importantly, it helps you achieve the objectives of the treatment.
This service is for everyone, but can be even more interesting for people living with a chronic disease who need to reach therapeutic targets (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, taking anticoagulants, etc.).
As already mentioned, pharmacists can now prescribe certain treatments for various situations predetermined by regulation. Thus, no consultation with a doctor is required. Instead, there is a consultation with the pharmacist, who analyzes the situation and then determines whether or not they are able to prescribe the required treatment.
Here are some examples of situations where the pharmacist can prescribe a treatment:
- smoking cessation
- travellers’ diarrhea
- vitamin supplementation during pregnancy
- nausea and vomiting in pregnant women
- emergency oral contraception (ECP or “morning-after pill”)
- hormonal contraception (for an initial period not exceeding 6 months)
- dyspepsia (upset stomach) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (or acid reflux)
- head lice
Additionally, if you have received a prescription for any of the following reasons within the last five years, a pharmacist may be able to prescribe the same treatment to you:
- minor acne
- canker sores
- allergic conjunctivitis
- atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- diaper rash
- herpes labialis
- allergic rhinitis (e.g., seasonal allergies)
- urinary tract infection in women
- vaginal yeast infection
For the following minor conditions, a prescription must have been received within the last two years:
It should also be noted that a pharmacist may, in certain situations, prescribe over-the-counter medications for a variety of conditions, if appropriate.
Extending a prescription
When a prescription expires (runs out of refills), it can be difficult to contact the prescriber to have it refilled. Did you know that the law now allows pharmacists to extend certain prescriptions? This convenient service can save you time, effort and energy.
Following an analysis, and if deemed appropriate, a pharmacist can extend the expired prescription until you can contact or see the prescriber. It should be noted that this service should never be intended to replace a scheduled or necessary medical appointment, but rather to avoid the interruption of an essential treatment. Ask your pharmacist for more information.
Pharmacists as a primary resource
If you have a minor health issue or want to prevent one, consider pharmacists as your first resource. If you have any medication or health-related questions, they can help you or direct you to the right place. Who said health management has to be complicated? Count on your pharmacist to support you, advise you... and make your life easier!
Good health to you!