The province of New Brunswick says Medicare will now cover fees that pharmacies charge for prescribing patients birth control, as well as for assessing and treating people for shingles.
In a release Tuesday, the province said the goal is to “reduce wait times, increase access to primary care, and lessen the pressure on other service providers in the health-care system.”
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard described the current model for primary health care in the province as “outdated and leaves too many New Brunswickers without access.”
“Expanding the role of pharmacists and other health-care providers will have a big impact on evolving our system to one that, no matter where someone enters the system, they are able to access the care they need,” said Shephard.
Patients will still be responsible for the usual pharmacy dispensing fees and the cost of prescribed medications, in addition to any fees for injections, the release noted.
Andrew Drover, the president of the New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association, said in the release that publicly funding these services will “improve access to care for women managing their reproductive health and for anyone facing shingles.”
“Pharmacists are vital, accessible health-care providers who can help transform primary care in New Brunswick,” said Drover. “We look forward to finding more ways that pharmacists can help ease the burden on family physicians and emergency rooms while making it easier for patients to access the health care they need.”
Pharmacists’ fees for minor ailments vary by pharmacy, but typically cost between $20 to $25.
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