Expanded pharmacy services

B.C. residents can book an appointment to see a pharmacist for 21 minor ailments and prescription contraceptives.

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Last updated: June 29, 2023

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Pharmacists prescribing for minor ailments and contraception

You can get assessed by a pharmacist for 21 minor ailments, including pink eye, headaches and canker sores. You can also get prescriptions for contraception. These services are free of charge to British Columbians when provided in person, in a pharmacy.  

Your visit may include a prescription for medication, advice for self-care or a recommendation to see another health care provider for further assessment. This will give you and your family faster access to the prescriptions you need.

To find more information and see if a pharmacist can help you with your symptoms, visit see a pharmacist for minor ailments or contraception.

To see a pharmacist for minor ailments or get your prescriptions for contraceptives, you can book an appointment online.

Book an appointment

You can also visit a pharmacy to access this service without making an appointment. Services offered and pharmacist availability may vary.

What a pharmacist can do for you

For most prescriptions, your pharmacist can:

  • Prescribe for minor ailments and contraception
  • Renew your prescription
  • Adjust the dose or the timing for how you take or use your medication
  • Change the formulation of your medication (for example, from a tablet to a capsule or a liquid)
  • Substitute your medication for a different but similar medication

Pharmacists can't renew or change cancer chemotherapy prescriptions. They also can’t change a prescription for narcotics and controlled drugs. Pharmacists can renew a prescription for narcotics and controlled drugs, but not for more than the quantity originally prescribed.

If you're experiencing side effects or having trouble taking your medication, ask your pharmacist for advice. If possible, talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner first about problems with your medication.

How you can renew your prescription

A pharmacist may be able to renew your prescription if:

  • You are stable, need to continue on your medication, and have been on the same medication at the same dosage for 6 months or longer with no concerns
  • Your prescription is still valid and was issued in the past 24 months and the prescriber is still practising in B.C.

Depending on the medication and the condition being treated, a pharmacist may also be able to issue you a new prescription. Check information on seeing pharmacists for minor ailments or contraception.

What to bring to the pharmacy

If a pharmacist renews or changes your prescription, you must pick it up at the same pharmacy.

You can't go to a different pharmacy location to renew your prescription.

Get an emergency supply of your medication

If your prescription was written more than 2 years ago and you are out of medication, talk to your pharmacist. They may be able to provide an emergency supply of medication until you can get a new prescription from a doctor or other prescriber.

How to talk to your pharmacist about your health care

You can talk to your pharmacist about your prescriptions, your health and any concerns and questions. Talking to them can help you understand:

  • How your medications work
  • Why a specific medication or dosage was prescribed
  • What kind of side effects you might experience
  • How different drugs interact with each other

Pharmacists can also administer most injections for people 4 years and older, including:

  • Routine vaccinations like flu shots
  • Medication you're prescribed that has to be injected

Pharmacists are trained and licensed health care professionals. They are bound by the same ethics and confidentiality rules as your family doctor or nurse practitioner. Your health information and conversations with your pharmacist are private and confidential.

View your prescription history in Health Gateway

Your pharmacy will have access to your prescription records history. You can also access your health records by using the Health Gateway app.

Log in to Health Gateway to view your prescription history and other health records. You can access:

  • The medications you have been prescribed in the past
  • The dosages and directions for use for your medications

Prescription records are available back to 1995 for prescriptions issued in B.C. These records can help you have informed conversations with your pharmacist. They can also be used to show other insurance providers that you have coverage for certain medications through BC PharmaCare.

How prescriptions work

Often, your prescriber will request that you get a certain amount of your prescription filled at the pharmacy at a time. These are called prescription refills.

If you have used up all your medication and have no refills left, your pharmacist may be able to renew your prescription. This means you can continue to get your medication without visiting a doctor or other prescriber.

Prescriptions are valid for up to 2 years. If it has been 2 years since your prescription was written, even if it has refills remaining on it, it is likely invalid. If you need to continue taking the medication, you must get a new prescription written by a doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or other prescriber.

Access pharmacy services

You can access expanded pharmacy services in more than 1,400 community pharmacies across B.C.

Get coverage under BC PharmaCare

BC PharmaCare can help pay for:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical devices
  • Pharmacy services

You may be eligible for coverage under one or more PharmaCare plans, depending on your age, income and medication needs.

Resources for pharmacies

Download and print posters to help your patients understand how pharmacy services are changing. Posters are available in English, French, Punjabi, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.