Minor Ailments

As of January 1, 2023, Ontario pharmacists are authorized to prescribe medications for 13 minor ailments that include:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Candidal stomatitis (oral thrush)
  • Conjunctivitis (bacterial, allergic and viral)
  • Dermatitis (atopic, eczema, allergic and contact)
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Herpes labialis (cold sores)
  • Impetigo
  • Insect bites and urticaria (hives)
  • Tick bites, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent Lyme disease
  • Musculoskeletal sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections (uncomplicated)

Minor ailments are described as health conditions that can be managed with minimal treatment and/or self-care strategies. Additional criteria include:

  • Usually a short-term condition
  • Lab results aren’t usually required
  • Low risk of treatment masking underlying conditions
  • No medication or medical history red flags that could suggest a more serious condition
  • Only minimal or short-term follow-up is required

Registrants or members of the public with questions about minor ailments prescribing may contact the College’s Pharmacy Practice team at 416-962-4861 ext. 3500 or pharmacypractice@ocpinfo.com.

For the Public

Patients are encouraged to speak to their pharmacist to find out what healthcare services they offer and whether they are right for their needs. Having the legislated authority to prescribe for minor ailments does not mean all pharmacists must offer or provide this service.

The College has posted answers to some commonly asked questions from patients about minor ailments prescribing.

Minor Ailments Resources for Pharmacists

It is the expectation of the College that pharmacists understand their ethical, legal and professional obligations and that they possess the required knowledge, clinical skills, and judgment to safely prescribe medications for minor ailments.

The following resources are available to help pharmacists prescribe for minor ailments safely and with confidence.

Mandatory Orientation for Minor Ailments Prescribing module

To support understanding of this scope of practice change, all Part A pharmacists must complete the Mandatory Orientation for Minor Ailments Prescribing module before engaging in prescribing for minor ailments and no later than December 31, 2023. There is no cost to pharmacists for completing this module.

Completion is required regardless of a pharmacist’s practice setting or whether they choose to prescribe for minor ailments since the regulation change applies to the profession as a whole rather than a specific to area of practice.

All Part A pharmacists will need to attest that they have completed the required orientation during the 2023 and 2024 annual renewal process or via the OCP Registrant Portal.

Continuing Education

In addition to having a thorough understanding of the legislative requirements of prescribing for minor ailments, pharmacists may also support their practice with clinical-based continuing education. As a reminder, it is a requirement of the College’s Quality Assurance Program that pharmacists participate in continuing professional development and maintain a learning portfolio.

With respect to minor ailments prescribing, this means the College expects pharmacists will have identified any learning opportunities and completed clinical education programs to enable them to safely and confidently prescribe for minor ailments before engaging in this expanded scope activity. A list of online continuous education courses related to minor ailments, which is not exhaustive, is available on the College’s website.

Additional resources

Regulation:
Ontario Regulation 202/94: General

Executive Officer Notice:
Funding for Minor Ailment Services in Ontario Pharmacies

Guidelines:
Initiating, Adapting and Renewing Prescriptions Guideline

Infographic:
Treating Minor Ailments: An overview for pharmacists

AHFS Resources:
The drugs listed in Schedule 4 of O.Reg 202/94: General are arranged by the American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Pharmacologic-Therapeutic Classification System. The following resources are provided for your reference:

Assessment and Treatment Algorithms:

  • Assessment & Prescribing for Antibiotic Prophylaxis to Prevent Lyme Disease Following a High-risk Tick Bite English | French
  • Assessment & Prescribing for Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection (Cystitis) English | French

The College acknowledges the Canadian Pharmacists Association for developing algorithms for the other minor ailments. These are available on their website (a paid subscription to CPS is required to access this content). This infographic provides instructions on how to quickly access the algorithms and drug tables that feature a trillium to indicate drugs that are eligible for minor ailments prescribing in Ontario.

Please note, at this time expert clinical opinion advises against prescribing high-potency topical corticosteroids and ophthalmic fluoroquinolones as part of the minor ailments expanded scope, and as such, they are not marked as eligible.

Pharmacists may choose to use clinical algorithms from other relevant sources that enable them to provide safe and effective patient care. For more information, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions about Minor Ailments.

Clinical Viewers:
Ontario Health offers pharmacies 24/7 access to patient care information at no cost, through one of two provincial clinical viewers (ConnectingOntario and ClinicalConnect) designated by region.

The viewers provide a complete history for monitoring progress of treatments, supporting chronic disease and medication management, and the delivery of Ministry of Health pharmacy programs such as MedsChecks and Pharmaceutical Opinions. The dynamic, near real-time view of patients’ health information, including laboratory test results and dispensed medications filled via Ontario Public Drug Programs (OPDP), enhances clinical decision-making and helps improve patient outcomes.