For women in Saskatchewan, accessing birth control is getting easier as pharmacists in the province are now able to prescribe hormonal contraceptives.
While this doesn’t include IUD’s (intrauterine device), it does include oral, transdermal (patch) or vaginal ring hormonal contraception.
In 2011 the province changed its rules and regulations to allow for pharmacists to prescribe for minor medical conditions such as diaper rash and emergency contraception.
“With respect to a pharmacists ability to assess, it really is no different than other health care professionals,” the director of professional practice at the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan, Myla Wollbaum, said.
While there are certain health conditions that might cause a pharmacist to refer a patient to their physician, for the most part, the process is quite simple.
A person can walk up to the counter at their local drug store and ask to speak with a pharmacist about a prescription, with no appointment necessary.
“It just allows them greater access to health care in Saskatchewan,” Wollbaum said. “Many pharmacies have extended hours of operation so right there is increased access just because of hours.”
It also allows greater access to contraception for women living in rural and remote areas where there might not be access to a doctor.
The change is welcomed news for Regina’s Planned Parenthood who said over the years, demand for their services has increased.
The recent changes also allow pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for urinary tract infections.
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However, patients must have been previously diagnosed by a physician or nurse practitioner in the past.
More prescribing power is being discussed and in the next six months, pharmacists will gain the ability to prescribe for erectile dysfunction, obesity and smoking cessation.