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Pharmacies can now prescribe COVID-19 treatment


Some big changes are coming to Ontario pharmacies.

Starting Monday, people who recently became infected with COVID-19 won't need to book a doctor's appointment if they want medical treatment.

Instead, they can visit their local pharmacy, if it’s opted in to prescribe Paxlovid.

Frank Perna, who co-owns and runs the Queenstown IDA Drug Mart, said the Sault's five IDA pharmacies will all opt in.

“We’re a great starting point for people,” Perna said.

“If there’s anything that we could do to help in that, I don’t see why we wouldn’t.”

Pharmacies have had Paxlovid for months, but the amount administered has been relatively low.

Pharmacist Jordan Jack, who owns the East End Pharmasave, said that number will soon rise.

He said the easy-access nature of pharmacies will make them the first call when people are looking for Paxlovid. In his mind, it will help the entire health care system and the public.

“Especially for people that are at risk, it’s better to get treatment as soon as you possibly can,” Jack said.

“Things can get bad really, really quick. So by treating with the Paxlovid in the first five days, it certainly improves your ability to get better quickly.”

Even more responsibility is coming to pharmacists, however.

On Jan. 1, they will be able to prescribe medication for 12 additional minor ailments, including dermatitis, hemorrhoids, and conjunctivitis.

“It just shows our versatility,” said Perna, who said this is a natural step for a profession that's continued to expand its responsibilities in recent years.

“You want to try to decrease the burden on the health care system, right? If we can keep someone out of the emergency room for a minor ailment, in itself is a victory.”

The Ontario College of Pharmacists has sent out training to prepare pharmacists for the additional ailments.

But Jack said its information they likely already know.

“In our schooling, we’re trained to treat those 12 minor ailments as well as other things,” he said.

“These ones are basically just things that are a little more common. So a little more that we’ll see in a community pharmacy and you don’t necessarily need a physician to diagnose.” Top Stories

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