Safeway pharmacists are now trained to prescribe medications to patients

COLORADO — More Colorado pharmacies are rolling out services that allow pharmacists to write prescriptions for short-term illnesses for patients. This comes after the Colorado Senate signed a bill last summer to expand pharmacy services.

Safeway pharmacies are the latest to train pharmacists in prescribing medications. About 100 locations across the state now offer walk-in health care for people 12 and older.

Nikki Price, director of pharmaceutical operations for Albertsons Safeway Pharmacies, said it would help expand access to health care for Coloradans.

“We can treat patients, improve quality of care and improve access to care. More importantly, for patients who may not have a primary care provider, they may have just moved into the area, or it’s like a weekend or an evening where they can’t reach a doctor or I can’t get emergency care,” she said.

Pharmacists can test and prescribe medications for acute illnesses such as the flu, strep throat, urinary tract infections, migraines, acne, and cold sores. They can also provide epi-pens, prenatal vitamins, contraceptives, and short-acting asthma inhalers.

Price said Safeway pharmacies charge a flat fee of $35 for a pharmacist to help you, but prescription prices are the same as a doctor’s. If the disease is more complex, she said the pharmacy can refer patients to a primary care provider.

Dr. Richard Vu, a physician with Matthews-Vu Medical Group in Colorado Springs, said the service would ease the patient load for primary care providers overall.

“In general, it is very good that patients have more access to medicines. Medicines for uncomplicated acute conditions will be extremely useful when more people get sick, such as in winter when people have more respiratory illnesses,” did he declare.

However, he urges people to continue seeing their providers for regular health checks and more complex health issues.

“The downside is that patients may not be able to have in-depth discussions with their doctors. For more complex issues for patients who have a lot of health issues and for drugs that have more side effects and more of risks, these are best discussed with your primary care physician,” he said.

Colorado is the second state, after Idaho, to allow pharmacists to treat patients. King Soopers pharmacies also treat patients. These places require a appointment.
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