B.C. pharmacists set to treat minor ailments, prescribe contraception starting June 1

Pharmacists to treat patients

Pharmacists in British Columbia will have more responsibilities starting June 1 in an effort to improve access for those without a family doctor and ease the stress on an overburdened health system.

The College of Pharmacists of BC says 75 per cent of eligible community pharmacists have completed the training required to be able to diagnose and prescribe medications for 21 minor ailments like acne, shingles or urinary tract infections, as well as prescribe contraception.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the new services will make it easier and faster for patients to get medication and take the pressure off nurses and doctors who can focus on those with more complex needs.

He says the province is launching a website on June 29 so residents can book appointments with pharmacists online, similar to the system used to get vaccines.

These latest powers come after changes last October that allowed pharmacists to administer more vaccines and renew prescriptions for up to a two-year period for people whose family doctors have retired or left their practices.

Chris Chiew, president of the BC Pharmacy Association, says pharmacists have the expertise and training to prescribe and are looking forward to helping people get care in a timely manner.

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