This Pharmacist Awareness Month Ontario Pharmacists Look to the Future of Pharmacy Practice

TORONTO, March 8, 2015 /CNW/ - This March, during Pharmacist Awareness Month, Ontario's pharmacists want you to know the valuable ways, beyond filling prescriptions, that they can assist you in achieving improved health outcomes. 

"Besides dispensing medication, Ontario's pharmacists are administering flu shots, performing medication reviews, adapting and renewing prescriptions when appropriate as well as prescribing medications to support smoking cessation efforts," said Sean Simpson, Chair of the Board for the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA). "This expanded practice has been successful in Ontario, and there is so much more pharmacists could be doing to improve patient outcomes if the government supported the expanded scope initiative."

Today, pharmacists in Ontario can:

  • Administer flu shots
  • Provide smoking cessation counselling and prescribe medications to support some patients who want to quit smoking (when appropriate)
  • Provide MedsCheck medication reviews, at no charge for eligible patients
  • Adapt and renew prescriptions (when appropriate)
  • Help patients meet their health and wellness goals by providing information and support on a wide variety of health topics

More details can also be found at  

However, Ontario is one of the few provinces that does not allow patients to visit their pharmacist to treat common or minor ailments and provide immunizations beyond the flu shot – services which can help redirect non-critical patients away from crowded emergency rooms and doctors' offices. In fact, pharmacists in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador all have the authority to prescribe for various common ailments. Furthermore, in every province except Quebec and the territories, pharmacists are authorized to administer at least some vaccines over and above the flu shot.

"Ontario is one of the last provinces to empower pharmacists to treat common ailments such as diaper rash, athlete's foot and pink eye, as well to authorize pharmacists to administer vaccines for travel, HPV, pertussis and shingles, to name just a few," said Simpson. "Pharmacists are highly trained medication experts and giving them the ability to provide these services will have a significant impact on patient care, as well as on cost savings."

By leveraging the unique expertise and accessibility of pharmacy professionals, Ontario has the opportunity to improve patient access to health care, reduce or reallocate healthcare costs to where they are most needed, and ultimately improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our healthcare system.

Potential Provincial Savings
Treating common ailments and administering vaccines could prevent up to 600,000 emergency room visits, 1,500 hospitalizations and free up 2.4 million physician hours to focus on more critical care.1 A provincial common ailments program would redirect treatment of non-critical patients from family physicians, walk in clinics, and the emergency room, reducing costly emergency room visits and easing hospital wait times. A 2012 Accenture study found a possible $12.3 million cost savings to Ontario over five years if pharmacists were enabled to treat common ailments.2

By allowing pharmacists to provide routine injections and by making immunizations more accessible and convenient (beyond the flu shot), Ontario will increase vaccination rates and keep patients out of doctor's offices and hospitals. Twenty-eight per cent of people who received the flu shot said they would not have been immunized if the pharmacy program was not available.3

The Ontario Pharmacists Association will continue to work with the provincial government to find ways to expand the role of pharmacists. For now, to learn more about what your pharmacist can do for you, drop in and meet yours! Join the #PharmacistsOfferMore conversation on Facebook and Twitter. You can also visit or follow @OntPharmacists to ask questions.

About The Ontario Pharmacists Association
The Ontario Pharmacists Association is committed to evolving the pharmacy profession, and advocating for excellence in practice and patient care. As Canada's largest advocacy organization, and continuing education and drug information provider for pharmacists, the Association represents pharmacy professionals across Ontario. By leveraging the unique expertise of pharmacy professionals, enabling them to practice to their fullest potential, and making them more accessible to patients, OPA is working to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system.

1 Hamilton Community News. Ontario pharmacists seek expanded scope of practice. Mike Pearson, November 21, 2014. Available at: Accessed February 2016.

2 Cara Tannenbaum, The expanding scope of pharmacists' practice: implications for physicians. CMAJ, October 1, 2013. Available at: Accessed February 2016.

3 Pharmacists Scope of Practice in Canada. Canadian Pharmacists Association, January 2016. Available at Accessed February 2016.

SOURCE Ontario Pharmacists Association

Image with caption: "Pharmacist consulting patient (CNW Group/Ontario Pharmacists Association)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Pharmacists offer more than just pills (CNW Group/Ontario Pharmacists Association)". Image available at:

For further information: Please contact: Lindsay George, Manager, Communications and Membership, Ontario Pharmacists Association, 416-441-0788 x 4236,; Amanda Federchuk, GCI Group,, 416-486-7231


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