By Robert Benzie
Pharmacists can now give flu shots, renew most prescriptions, and prescribe drugs to help quit smoking, said Premier Dalton McGuinty.
McGuinty announced Tuesday that the long-anticipated changes are effective immediately.
“This is good news for families,” the premier told reporter at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy on College Street.
With only one third of Ontarians getting vaccinated against influenza annually, McGuinty said he’s hopeful the change will encourage more people to get the shot.
Pharmacists will be paid $7.50 per injection, which is provided to patients free of charge.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said 600 of Ontario’s 3,500 pharmacies will provide the service this fall and winter with the program expanding in the years ahead.
“We are maximizing the services provided by pharmacists so that Ontarians can receive the care they need safely, quickly and closer to home,” said Matthews.
To that end, she said pharmacists would also be able to provide up to six-month renewals of prescriptions for all non-narcotic medications.
As well, they will be permitted for the first time to prescribe smoking cessation drugs.
Dennis Darby, CEO of Ontario Pharmacists’ Association, hailed the moves, which he said go a long way to repairing the industry’s previously testy relations with the government.
Pharmacists had battled the Liberals in 2010 after McGuinty’s administration forced a 50 per cent cut in generic drug prices and banned “professional allowance” payouts worth $750 million a year from generic manufacturers.
- Torstar News Service