COLORADO — More pharmacies in Colorado are rolling out services allowing pharmacists to write prescriptions treating short-term illnesses for patients. This comes after the Colorado Senate signed a bill into law last summer to expand pharmacy services.
Safeway pharmacies are the latest to train pharmacists to prescribe medication. One hundred locations across the state are now providing walk-in health care for those 12 years and older.
Nikki Price, director of pharmacy operations for Albertsons Safeway pharmacies, said this will help expand health care access to Coloradans.
"We can treat patients, improve quality of care, and access to care. More importantly, for those patients who may not have a primary care provider, maybe they just moved in the area, or it's like a weekend or an evening when they can't get a hold of a doctor or can't get to an urgent care," she said.
Pharmacists can test and prescribe medication for acute illnesses such as the flu, strep throat, UTIs, migraines, acne, and cold sores. They can also provide epi-pens, prenatal vitamins, birth control, and short-acting inhalers for asthma.
Price said Safeway pharmacies charge a $35 flat fee for a pharmacist to assist you, but prescription prices are the same as they would be from a doctor. If the illness is more complex, she said the pharmacy can refer patients to a primary care provider.
Dr. Richard Vu, a physician at Matthews-Vu Medical Group in Colorado Springs, said the service will overall lighten the patient load for primary care providers.
"In general, it is very good for patients to have more access to medications. Medications for acute uncomplicated conditions will be extremely helpful when more people get sick, such as winter time when people have more respiratory illnesses," he said.
However, he urges people to continue to see their providers for regular health screenings and more complex health issues.
"The downside is, perhaps patients may not be able to have in-depth discussions with their doctors. For more complex issues for patients who have a lot of medical conditions and for medications that have more side effects and more risks, those are better discussed with your primary care physician," he said.
Colorado is the second state, after Idaho, to allow pharmacists to treat patients. King Soopers pharmacies are also treating patients. Those locations require an appointment.
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