Can Pharmacists Prescribe Antibiotics

There are many controversies as regards the question CAN PHARMACIST PRESCRIBE ANTIBIOTICS?

Pharmacists are mostly known to prescribe treatment for some minor ailments which do not last for a long time. Some of these ailments could be allergic rhinitis, minor joint pain, or mild headache.

Recent advancements in healthcare now imply that antibiotics should be taken only on prescription. In this regard, pharmacists can prescribe antibiotics, but only on certain fulfilled conditions. This means that if a pharmacist cannot or does not fulfill these conditions, then he or she cannot prescribe antibiotics. Let’s go a bit deep into this topic below.


The ability of pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics varies depending on the country and the specific regulations and laws in place. In some countries, pharmacists have expanded roles and responsibilities that include limited prescribing authority for certain medications, including antibiotics. However, in many countries, pharmacists do not have the authority to prescribe antibiotics.

In countries where pharmacists can prescribe antibiotics, there are usually specific conditions and limitations attached to their prescribing authority. For example, they may be restricted to specific types of antibiotics, certain indications, or limited duration of treatment. Pharmacists typically undergo additional training and may need to collaborate with or consult physicians or other healthcare providers before prescribing antibiotics.

It’s important to note that antibiotics are powerful medications that should be used judiciously to prevent antibiotic resistance and ensure appropriate treatment. In cases where a pharmacist has prescribing authority for antibiotics, they are expected to follow guidelines and adhere to best practices to ensure the safe and effective use of these medications.

To further widen our knowledge about this matter of global concern, this article will explore detailed explanations of ailments that require pharmacists to prescribe antibiotics for their treatment, pharmacist decision on whether or not to prescribe antibiotics, the assessment process for a pharmacist to prescribe antibiotics, conditions a pharmacy should meet to obtain the prescriptive authority, circumstances in which pharmacist can use the prescriptive authority and signs under which pharmacist cannot prescribe antibiotics.


Pharmacists have the authority to prescribe antibiotics for a specific list of 32 minor ailments. These ailments are considered non-serious medical conditions that do not necessitate blood tests or other laboratory examinations. They are medical conditions that can be effectively treated with minimal intervention and self-care strategies.

These minor ailments can often be addressed with at-home treatments, over-the-counter medications, or other prescription medications. Typically, these ailments have a short duration and do not require frequent visits to the pharmacy or healthcare provider.

It is important to note that the pharmacist’s prescribing authority for antibiotics is limited to this specific set of minor ailments. For more serious or complex conditions, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional who can provide a comprehensive assessment, including any necessary laboratory tests, and prescribe the appropriate treatment, including antibiotics, if required.

The following are some examples of minor ailments for which a pharmacist can prescribe treatment, including antibiotics if necessary:

  1. Allergic Rhinitis
  2. Calluses and Corns
  3. Contact Allergic Dermatitis, (also known as allergic contact dermatitis, a skin reaction that occurs when your skin comes into contact with an allergen)
  4. Cough
  5. Dandruff
  6. Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)
  7. Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  8. Emergency Contraception
  9. Skin fungal infections like Athlete’s foot
  10. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (acid reflux)
  11. Hemorrhoids
  12. Herpes Simplex (cold sores)
  13. Impetigo
  14. Mild Acne
  15. Mild Headache
  16. Mild to Moderate Eczema
  17. Mild Urticaria (including bites and stings/hives)
  18. Minor Joint Pain
  19. Minor Muscle Pain
  20. Minor Sleep Disorders
  21. Nasal Congestion
  22. Nausea
  23. Non-infectious Diarrhea
  24. Oral Fungal Infection (thrush)
  25. Oral Ulcers
  26. Smoking Cessation
  27. Sore Throat
  28. Threadworms and Pinworms
  29. Uncomplicated urinary tract infection
  30. Vaginal Candidiasis (yeast infection)
  31. Warts (excluding facial and genital)
  32. Xerophthalmia (dry eyes).

However, while a pharmacist can prescribe treatment for these minor ailments, the specific treatment, including antibiotics, will be determined based on the pharmacist’s assessment and professional judgment, as well as the individual’s condition and medical history.


Having a minor ailment is not a guarantee for an antibiotic prescription. But, a pharmacist will have to undergo the assessment process in order to decide whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.

When seeking an antibiotic for a minor ailment, the process typically involves the following steps facilitated by the pharmacist:

Consent and Assessment: The pharmacist will obtain your consent to conduct an assessment of your condition. This assessment will take place in a private consulting room, often located near the pharmacy. Depending on the pharmacy, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment for the assessment.

Detailed Discussion: The pharmacist will engage in a comprehensive discussion about your minor ailment. This will include inquiries about your medical history, past and present medical conditions, allergies, current medications, as well as the duration and symptoms of the minor ailment.

Recommendation: Based on the detailed discussion, the pharmacist will make a recommendation for appropriate treatment. This may involve suggesting an over-the-counter medication or prescribing a specific medication, such as an antibiotic, depending on the nature of the ailment.

Referral to a Doctor: If the pharmacist determines that the condition is more serious or if there is uncertainty, you may be referred to a doctor instead of being issued antibiotics directly.

Prescription Preparation: If the pharmacist prescribes an antibiotic, they will prepare the prescription for you. You can choose to have it filled at the same pharmacy or take it to a different one. The pharmacist will also notify your doctor of the prescription for record-keeping purposes. In case you don’t have a doctor, the pharmacist may provide you with a doctor’s notice to keep until you have one.

Follow-up and Monitoring: After prescribing the antibiotic, the pharmacist will follow up with you, usually through phone calls, to inquire about your progress and how you are feeling. Based on the effectiveness of the antibiotic and your response, the pharmacist will advise whether to continue with the same treatment, consider alternative recommendations, or suggest visiting a doctor if necessary.

Service fee: there is usually a fee associated with minor ailment assessment and prescribing services, although the exact amount may vary from one pharmacy to another. It is essential to emphasize that not all pharmacies offer these assessment and prescribing services for minor ailments so you make inquiries beforehand.


In order to obtain prescriptive authority for antibiotics or any other medication, pharmacists are typically required to fulfill at least two of the following conditions established by the state Board of Pharmacy:

  • Obtain certification in a relevant area of practice such as critical care, ambulatory care, oncology pharmacy, or pharmacotherapy.
  • Successfully complete a minimum of one year of residency training following graduation from pharmacy school.
  • Provide clinical services to patients for a period of one year under a collaborative practice agreement or protocol with a physician or another healthcare provider.

Even if a pharmacist meets these requirements and obtains prescriptive authority, it is important to note that this authority is subject to specific circumstances and limitations. Pharmacists can exercise their prescriptive authority only in certain situations, as outlined by relevant laws, regulations, and professional guidelines.

These conditions are in place to ensure that pharmacists possess the necessary expertise, experience, and collaborative relationships to make informed decisions regarding the prescription of antibiotics or other medications. The aim is to uphold patient safety and optimize the quality of care provided.


In order for a pharmacist to have the authority to prescribe antibiotics or related medications for your ailment, several conditions must be met:

  • You must have previously received a diagnosis and treatment from a doctor or specialized nurse for your ailment. This includes obtaining a prescription for the specific ailment in question.
  • The most recent prescription you received for the minor ailment must be within the specified timeframe. For most ailments, this timeframe is less than four years. However, exceptions apply for primary dysmenorrhea and hemorrhoids (less than two years) and urinary tract infections in women (less than twelve months).
  • If you are a woman, you should not have received treatment for a urinary tract infection more than three times in the past year. If you have, you may not be eligible to receive a prescription for antibiotics from the pharmacist.
  • The symptoms you are experiencing should be clear enough for the pharmacist to assess the severity of your ailment.

Only if these conditions are met, will the pharmacist have the authority to prescribe antibiotics or related medications for your ailment. However, it’s important to note that the pharmacist may only prescribe medication or antibiotics that are equal to or lower in strength than the one originally prescribed by your doctor. This ensures continuity of care and appropriate treatment based on your previous medical history.


Even if all the necessary circumstances and prescriptive authority conditions are fulfilled, there are certain warning signs or symptoms that would prevent a pharmacist from prescribing antibiotics or medications. These warning signs include:

  • Persistence or recurrence of a minor ailment despite previous treatment.
  • Identification of signals or symptoms indicating an undiagnosed illness.
  • Observing a decline or change in the function of any organs.
  • The patient experiencing an unusual or abnormal reaction to a medicine or antibiotic.

When these warning signs are present, it is crucial for the pharmacist to exercise caution and refer the patient to a doctor or appropriate healthcare professional for further evaluation and diagnosis. In such cases, a comprehensive medical assessment is necessary to ensure the proper management of the patient’s condition and to determine the most appropriate treatment options. The primary concern is the well-being and safety of the patient, and prompt medical attention from a qualified healthcare provider is vital in these situations.


Since pharmacists have certain restrictions in the prescription of antibiotics, it is recommended that you consult a qualified healthcare professional, such as a physician or nurse practitioner, who can assess your condition, provide an accurate diagnosis, and prescribe appropriate antibiotics if necessary. They have the expertise and knowledge to make informed decisions regarding antibiotic treatment based on a comprehensive evaluation of your health and specific circumstances.



Yes, there are antibiotics that can be obtained without a prescription, commonly referred to as over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics. You can find these OTC antibiotics at various local drug stores or pharmacy sections within grocery stores. However, it is important to note that only specific types of antibiotics, typically topical antibiotics, are available for purchase without a prescription.


Amoxicillin is a medication that can only be obtained with a prescription. It is available in the form of capsules or a liquid formulation that is taken orally. In certain cases, amoxicillin may also be administered via injection, but this method is typically reserved for hospital settings.

error: Content is protected !!