The Ontario government said it will allow pharmacists to directly prescribe Paxlovid — an antiviral to treat COVID-19 — to patients who present a positive test.
Ontario’s health minister Sylvia Jones said pharmacists can prescribe Paxlovid at no cost to the patient starting on Monday, Dec. 12.
This means Ontarians will no longer need to get a prescription from a doctor to get the drug. Pharmacists can prescribe Paxlovid in person or virtually.
Jones said the move is to increase accessibility and to allow pharmacists to assist patients directly.
“We can prevent severe symptoms and our ultimate goal is to prevent hospitalizations and by doing that we release some of that burden in emergency departments, in hospitals and ICU units,” said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, on Thursday.
Paxlovid is an antiviral medication in the form of a pill taken orally within the first five days of symptoms.
The medication is recommended for those aged 60 and older or anyone aged 18 and older who is immunocompromised or more at risk at developing severe outcomes from COVID-19.
There are more than 4,000 pharmacies in Ontario but Bates said it will be up to each individual pharmacy if they choose to take on prescribing and dispensing Paxlovid to patients.
“Our expectation is that the majority of pharmacies will take this on, but they will have to look at their patient population and individual circumstances to make that determination,” Bates said.
Ontario said it is recommending patients call their local pharmacies to confirm they can prescribe Paxlovid.