I learn in today’s news that Alberta is proposing to permit pharmacists to write prescriptions on their own authority.
I couldn’t agree more with this plan. Indeed, I proposed it myself, in this space, some time ago.
Firstly, it is an obvious step to reduce health costs, a growing concern. It seems terribly inefficient to oblige a patient to see an M.D. every time he or she wants, say, a prescription renewed. The massive and expensive training a doctor has is just not necessary for this.
Conversely, the quite thorough training a pharmacist receives seems more than adequate. I get the impression that the average pharmacist is bursting with drug expertise and feeling underutilized. And what he or she might lack, quite frankly, is easily made up by a simple computer program that matches symptoms and contraindications with medicines. Any consumer, indeed, can now quickly educate themselves pretty thoroughly over the Internet on anything they are taking.
Using pharmacists and computer programs instead of costly doctor’s visits will save huge amounts of money for the taxpayer.
But that is only the beginning of the real savings. Think of all the man-hours lost to doctors’appointments, which could now be avoided. Think of the huge savings to the economy of not needing to give employees time off during work hours to see a doctor over such trivial matters.
And in doing this we have broken a legal monopoly. Doctors may be perfectly benevolent and well-intentioned (or not), but monopolies are never to the advantage of the consumer or the economy. They should be avoided whenever they are not strictly necessary.
And consider, too, the much greater convenience and freedom for the consumer. Not to mention the fact that we ought to have full control over our own bodies, as a matter of human rights, and so be fully free to decide for ourselves what medicines to take.
Alberta has the right idea. Let’s hope they follow through.