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May 14, 2014
For immediate release

Expansion of pharmacists' services being explored

Health and Wellness

Under proposed changes to expand the services pharmacists can offer, Islanders will be able to visit their local pharmacist to receive treatment and prescriptions for a variety of minor ailments, giving them quicker access to care and freeing up physicians’ time to treat more serious illnesses, says Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie.

“Enabling pharmacists to use their training to treat minor ailments means Islanders would have more convenient, timely access to quality care,” said the minister. “At the same time it would allow more time for physicians to use their expertise to treat more serious matters, while also reducing the number of visits to walk-in clinics and emergency departments.”

The Department of Health and Wellness is currently consulting with pharmacists and other health-care providers, including physicians, to enable pharmacists to assess and prescribe medications for 30 minor ailments, such as minor joint pain, nausea, heartburn, coughs and warts. Pharmacists would not be able to prescribe monitored drugs, such as narcotics.

The changes would also allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations for a variety of communicable diseases, such as tetanus and HPV. Islanders would also be able to visit a pharmacist for injections of drugs such as Depo-Provera (birth control) and vitamin B-12. As announced in the provincial budget, pharmacists will be able to administer the flu vaccine.

Pharmacists wanting to treat minor ailments would be required to be trained in accordance with the standards to be set by the soon-to-be-formed PEI College of Pharmacists. These proposed changes are in line with other Maritime provinces.

“Pharmacists are quite often the first health care providers consulted when patients are seeking treatment for minor ailments or routine vaccinations,” said Erin MacKenzie, Executive Director of the PEI Pharmacists Association. “The announced changes will allow patients to have these needs addressed in a more timely fashion, resulting in improved access to care, and promoting a more efficient health-care system for all Islanders.”

The Department of Health and Wellness, with Health PEI and the various health-care professions, has been working to ensure all health-care employees are working to the full potential of their skills and training. Enabling employees to work to their full ability ensures health-care professionals are working together to provide the best outcomes for patients.

Consultation with health-care groups will conclude later this month. The changes would come into effect in the fall, ahead of this year’s flu season.

“Getting the flu shot is the best way to protect oneself, and one’s family, from getting sick. Yet we know most Islanders still don’t make an appointment to receive the vaccine,” said the minister. “Being able to stop by the local pharmacy to receive a flu shot will not only encourage uptake, it’s also ensuring we’re using our health-care resources wisely and to their full potential.”

BACKGROUNDER:

Under the proposed changes, pharmacists with the required training would be able to assess and prescribe medications for the following minor ailments:

• Allergic rhinitis

• Calluses/corns

• Contract allergic dermatitis (allergic skin rash)

• Cough

• Dandruff

• Dysmenorrhea (pre-menstrual and menstrual pain)

• Dyspepsia (indigestion)

• Emergency contraception

• Fungal infections of the skin

• Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (heartburn)

• Haemorrhoids

• Herpes simplex (cold sores)

• Mild acne

• Mild headache

• Mild to moderate eczema

• Mild urticaria (hives, bug bites and stings)

• Minor joint pain

• Minor muscle pain

• Minor sleep disorders

• Nasal congestion

• Nausea

• Nicotine dependence

• Non-infectious diarrhea

• Oral fungal infection (thrush)

• Oral ulcers (canker sores)

• Sore throat

• Threadworms/pinworms

• Vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection)

• Warts (excluding facial/genital)

• Xerophthalmia (dry eyes)

Under the proposed changes, pharmacists with the required training would be able to administer vaccinations for the following communicable diseases to patients 18 years of age or older:

• Diphtheria and tetanus

• Diphtheria

• Tetanus and acellular pertussis

• Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

• Herpes zoster

• Pneumococcal disease

• Human papillomavirus

Pharmacists with the required training will be able to administer the following vaccine to patients five years of age or older:

• Influenza

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Media Contact: Mary Moszynski
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