FREDERICTON (GNB) – Pharmacists are now publicly funded to assess and prescribe for seven more illnesses and conditions.

“This step supports our efforts to improve access to primary care by giving patients access to treatment at participating pharmacies without needing to attend a doctor’s office or after-hours clinic,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch. “Making it easier for patients to receive treatment and reducing the number of people going to a doctor or nurse practitioner for common ailments supports our efforts under our provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.”

Fitch said the government has been taking action to ensure that health-care professionals practise to the full extent of their skills and education.

Effective today, patients may access publicly funded care in participating pharmacies for the following:

·         contact allergic dermatitis;

·         cold sores;

·         mild to moderate eczema;

·         gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD);

·         impetigo;

·         Lyme disease prevention after a high-risk tick bite; and

·         mild acne.

“The New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association has been advocating for years to expand coverage for New Brunswickers to access health care in their community pharmacies,” said Andrew Drover, president of the New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association. “Today’s announcement means thousands of patients will be diverted from emergency departments, doctors’ offices and clinics. Expanding the role of pharmacies is a prescription for relief in our health-care system.”

Increasing access to primary health care is a key action item under the government’s health plan, which was released last fall.

“This addition to the list of ailments covered by the province recognizes the knowledge and the education of pharmacists,” said Anastasia Shiamptanis, registrar of the New Brunswick College of Pharmacists. “Patient care is at the core of what pharmacists and pharmacy technicians do and this is a good extension of their role in primary care.”

“I am pleased to see the Government of New Brunswick empowering pharmacists to use their expertise to assess and treat for additional common ailments which helps our patients get the care they need sooner and closer to home,” said Jonathan Walsh, pharmacist and independent owner of Riverview Guardian Pharmacy. “This decision will reduce demand on hospitals, emergency departments, walk-in clinics, and family physicians. It also frees up time for our health-care partners, allowing doctors, nurses, and other health-care providers to focus on more complex care cases.”

Fitch said the announcement builds upon government initiatives to expand the role of pharmacists over the past two years, including covering the costs for them to:

·         renew prescriptions for people who do not have a primary care provider or cannot access their provider;

·         assess and prescribe medication for uncomplicated urinary tract infections for people between 16 and 64 who have previously been diagnosed with an uncomplicated urinary tract infection;

·         provide contraception management and prescribe certain birth control medications;

·         assess and prescribe medication for shingles; and

·         assess and prescribe the antiviral Paxlovid for COVID-19.

Patients will still be responsible for the cost of prescribed medications for these ailments, as well as any fees for injections provided by pharmacy professionals.