Minor Ailment FAQs

Prescribing

If you have questions about using our minor ailments, we have developed the Introduction to medSask Minor Ailment Guidelines with Practice Cases course. This course will provide you with a high-level overview of medSask guidelines and the prescribing process, an instructional walk-through of the guidelines, and an opportunity to use the guidelines while working through patient case scenarios. 
Can the patient fill the prescribed medication at any pharmacy? 

Yes. Pharmacists are considered legal prescribers for minor ailments and self-care prescribing. However, their prescribing and dispensing functions are independent of each other. Because of this, patients may choose to fill their prescriptions at any pharmacy. The original prescriber is responsible for follow-up even when the prescription is filled at another pharmacy.

Do private insurance plans recognize pharmacists as prescribers?

Usually. In Saskatchewan, pharmacists are considered legal prescribers, and in most circumstances a private plan would recognize them as such. 

Can a pharmacist prescribe for a patient without a primary care practitioner?

Yes. The Regulatory Bylaws have exemptions for pharmacist prescribing for patients without primary care practitioners. The pharmacist is authorized to prescribe for minor ailments and self-care conditions without an existing patient-primary practitioner relationship. 

Can a pharmacist prescribe any prescription medication?

No. Pharmacists may only prescribe Schedule I medications with an official Health Canada indication as specified in the Eligible Schedule I Drugs section of the medSask Minor Ailment Guidelines. 

Why can't a pharmacist prescribe certain medications under the Minor Ailment Guidelines when they are recommended in other guidelines?

Minor Ailment Guidelines are not clinical practice guidelines. Each product selected for treatment in the Minor Ailment Guidelines must have an official Health Canada approved indication for that condition. As an example, a pharmacist cannot prescribe benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin products for Minor Ailment Mild Acne because all benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin products are indicated for moderate acne only.

Does the patient have to be at the pharmacy for the pharmacist to prescribe?

Use discretion. Pharmacists must use their professional judgement when assessing each patient. The patient needs to be in the pharmacy when the pharmacist feels that the condition requires in-person confirmation. The patient does not need to be in the pharmacy when the pharmacist feels comfortable assessing the patient without them being present. This decision is at the discretion of the pharmacist.

Fees and Billing

Why will the Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) not go through?

There are several possibilities:

  • Are you using the proper pseudoDIN? (Located in the Prescribing and Billing Details section of each guideline) 
  • Is the product you are prescribing on the approved list? (Located in the Eligible Schedule I Drugs section of each guideline)
    • If all other issues have been considered, the DIN may not have been added by the DPEBB yet (e.g., new product). Call or email DPEBB to inquire. 
  • Has the patient reached their max number of claims and/or quantity as indicated in the Prescribing and Billing Details section of the guideline?  
     
Can a pharmacist prescribe for an out of province patient (non-Saskatchewan health card holder)? Can a pharmacist charge an out of province patient a Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F)?

Yes. For patients who are non-Saskatchewan residents (e.g., out of province residents), the pharmacist may prescribe a drug to the patient in accordance with The Regulatory Bylaws and must make a reasonable attempt to obtain the patient’s medication history from other sources such as the patient and other pharmacies. You may charge the non-Saskatchewan health card holder a MAF that they must pay out of pocket.

Can a pharmacist prescribe and just not submit the Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) to the DPEBB if a patient has exceeded the MSOP-F threshold/limits?

Yes. The Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch places billing thresholds/limits on the number of times it will pay a Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) for individual conditions within 365 days per patient. The MSOP-F is based on clinical considerations, but these thresholds do not solely determine the appropriateness of pharmacist prescribing. Pharmacists are expected to use professional judgement and medSask guidelines to identify when it is in the best interest of the patient to prescribe and when to refer to another health provider.

Is a Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) paid for non-formulary products?

Yes. If the product is eligible according to the guidelines, an MSOP-F may be claimed. For example, all eligible prescription products for hemorrhoids are non-formulary, and all are still eligible for MSOP-F.

Can a pharmacist claim a Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) for prescribing an OTC medication?

No. The Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Program only provides MSOP-Fs when prescribing a Schedule 1 medication. A MSOP-F cannot be claimed when it is in the patient’s best interest to be prescribed an OTC medication.  Note that when a patient assessment has been completed, it is still recommended that documents are retained on the patient file.

Can a pharmacist apply for Exception Drug Status (EDS) for a medication they prescribe?

No. A primary care prescriber is required to complete the EDS application because the pharmacist does not make a diagnosis. The pharmacist may prescribe EDS medications, but cannot initiate the EDS application for that medication unless the patient has a diagnosis from a primary care practitioner. If that is the case, the pharmacist may apply for EDS on their behalf after receiving the information. However, the pharmacist is still eligible for the Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee. 

Can a pharmacist prescribe refills? Can a pharmacist bill a separate Minor Ailments, Self-Care and Other Diseases Fee (MSOP-F) if they provide a refill (e.g., cold sore medication to have on hand)?

It depends. Refills depend on the minor ailment or self-care condition. In some cases, each encounter is considered a discrete episode which requires the pharmacist to complete a new assessment. For other conditions, the pharmacist may be able to provide a specific number of refills. You can find information about refills in the Prescribing and Billing Details section of each guideline. 

No. Any additional prescribing for the same instance for which you have already prescribed still falls under the initial MAF. This includes a change of product, refills, and additional follow up. 

Why are refills permitted for some conditions but not others?

Many different factors are considered when deciding whether refills are permitted. Refills are often included for minor ailment or self-care conditions where longer term use of the product is required and full resolution in a short duration of time is not expected. Refills are not permitted for conditions where full resolution of the initial presenting episode should occur before further prescribing takes place.  

Must an assessment be completed for a patient requesting a product that has been previously prescribed for that patient by a pharmacist?   

Yes. The pharmacist must complete a new assessment to ensure the patient still meets the eligibility criteria. The patient's medical conditions or other patient factors may have changed and their current product previously prescribed may no longer be the best option. 

General Guideline Information

Where can a pharmacist find updates to the guidelines?

Online. The medSask Minor Ailment documents are updated constantly. Pharmacists should only use the website (as opposed to printing) to ensure that the most current information and documents are used. Significant updates are outlined on the Minor Ailment and Self-Care Guidelines main page (Guideline Updates).

Who can a pharmacist contact if they have questions about the Minor Ailment guidelines?
  • Claims, billing procedures, and payment: contact the Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch at 1-800-667-7581. 
  • Regulatory questions surrounding Prescribing for Minor Ailments and Self-Care Conditions: contact the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals (SCPP) at info@saskpharm.ca or 306-584-2292. 
  • Professional Practice issues: contact the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS) at info@skpharmacists.ca or 306-359-7277.
  • Additional Support including clarification of the guidelines and documents: contact medSask at druginfo@usask.ca, 1-800-667-3425 or 306-966-6340
What can a pharmacist do to help keep the Minor Ailment Guidelines up to date, such as if I notice a problem/error, or think a product could be added to the eligible products list?

Please let medSask know at druginfo@usask.ca, 1-800-667-3425 or 306-966-6340

Written by: Sara Sawin BSP 
Reviewed by: Carmen Bell BSP
Edited by: Brianna Groot B.A.
Date: 6 March 2023; updated 11 Dec 2023