Minor Ailment FAQs
- 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 1 medications with an official Health Canada indication as specified in the Products 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 Ailment Fee (MAF) 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 Products section of each guideline)
- 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 Ailment Fee (MAF)?
Yes. For patients who are non-Saskatchewan residents (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.
*Mild COVID-19 Infection – pharmacists may prescribe for non-SK residents; however, patients do not pay a MAF. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to organize payment for a non-SK resident.
- Can a pharmacist prescribe and just not claim the Minor Ailment Fee (MAF) if a patient has exceeded max medications?
No. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch (DPEBB) Minor Ailment Program Policy and Procedures specifies the maximum number of minor ailment fees per condition, per patient, per year (365 days). The claim limits are specified in the Prescribing and Billing Details section of each respective guideline. The pharmacist must prescribe within the parameters of the guideline, even if they are not being compensated by the DPEBB for the prescribing. For example, if a minor ailment condition allows 3 claims in 365 days, and the patient has already had 3 claims, the pharmacist cannot prescribe any additional claims and just not claim the MAF.
- Is a Minor Ailment Fee (MAF) paid for non-formulary products?
Yes. If the product is eligible according to the guidelines, an MAF may be claimed. For example, all eligible prescription products for hemorrhoids are non-formulary, and all are still eligible for MAF.
- Can a pharmacist claim a Minor Ailment Fee (MAF) for prescribing an OTC medication?
No. The Minor Ailment Program only provides MAFs when prescribing a Schedule 1 medication. A MAF 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 the drug plan will not cover the medication for the patient. However, the pharmacist is still eligible for the Minor Ailment Fee. If the patient has a diagnosis from a primary care practitioner, the pharmacist may apply for EDS on their behalf after receiving the information.
- Can a pharmacist prescribe refills? Can a pharmacist bill a separate Minor Ailment Fee (MAF) 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 email@example.com or 306-584-2292.
- Professional Practice issues: contact the Pharmacy Association of Saskatchewan (PAS) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 306-359-7277.
- Additional Support including clarification of the guidelines and documents: contact medSask at email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-667-3425 or 306-966-6340