Pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador say they could save the government millions, if given the chance.

The Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador released a document called The Pharmacist Option on Tuesday.

Stephen Reid, the group's executive director, said the proposal would give pharmacists a greater role in dealing with patients, and could save the province more than $165-million in health care costs.

Reid said it's a trend across the country.

"What we want to be able to do is to make the health care system better, so that doctors in particular can actually deal with more serious issues and have decreased waiting times for their clinics," he said.

The report detailed increasing pharmacists' roles in six areas:

  • Medication reviews, especially for elderly and chronically-ill patients;
  • Monitoring patients' adherence to their prescribed drugs;
  • Administering vaccinations;
  • Prescribing treatment for minor ailments;
  • A more formal role in helping people to stop smoking; and,
  • Advising diabetic patients on the proper use of blood sugar test strips.

Greg Batt, president of the Pharmacists' Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and a co-author of the report, said getting an expanded role would also ease the pressure on family practices and emergency departments.

"We did a survey last year of all the pharmacists in the province, and the overwhelming majority, like over 90 per cent, were in support of these types of services. And that shows the pharmacists are eager and willing to do more for their patients," he said.

Reid said the association presented the plan to government about a month ago, but it has not yet received a response.