New Brunswick pharmacists are getting some support from their colleagues in Saskatchewan in a bid to expand their role in the health care system.

The pharmacists are asking for the right to treat minor ailments, such as cold sores, bug bites, diaper rashes and acne.

They released a survey last week that suggests 85 per cent of New Brunswickers support the idea of an expanded role.

Pharmacists in Saskatchewan already have those powers and have had success, said Dawn Martin, president of their professional association.


Paul Blanchard says New Brunswick pharmacists are not asking for the right to prescribe anything addictive. (CBC)

"What we really see here is a fairly innovative way to address patient need and certainly a lot of people are self-diagnosing anyway, and they're not doing that with the benefit of a health provider," she said.

Martin said Saskatchewan pharmacists have very specific guidelines for treating seven conditions and they hope to add more soon.

"If they go outside of those lines in any way, then the college of pharmacists here in Saskatchewan are going to make sure that they toe the line," she said.

Martin dismisses the notion that there is a conflict of interest to have the same person prescribing and selling medication.

Doctors in Saskatchewan have been supportive, but do have concerns about cases in which some conditions that appear to be minor could be masking more serious ones, she said.

New Brunswick Medical Society officials were unavailable for comment on Monday about the proposal.

But Robert Desjardins, the society's president, said in a written statement that doctors have "strong respect for for pharmacists."

"We have held the same belief on teamwork for years; changes to scopes of practice should be addressed with all providers to ensure the increased provision of team-based, coordinated care that puts patients first," he said.


Robert Desjardins, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, said doctors will continue "to advocate for team-based care in the province." (CBC)

"That's why doctors have been driving primary care reform and working on government committees for the last seven years. We're sure that changes to primary care will be fully discussed at the proper tables in consultation with nurses, nurse practitioners, dieticians, and doctors.  

Desjardins said the medical society will continue "to advocate for team-based care in the province of New Brunswick."

Paul Blanchard, the executive director of the New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association, said pharmacists are not asking for the right to prescribe anything addictive.

Pharmacists will be looking to collect fees for the service, he said..

He admits pharmacy revenues have taken a hit from new policies that favour generic drugs.

Blanchard estimates the provincial government has saved about $20 million on drugs in the last year.