Launch of New Pharmacist Run Clinic Inside a Community Pharmacy

IMG_1633Point Loma recently welcomed The Pharmacists Clinic and the addition of clinical health services in the local, family-owned pharmacy, Point Loma Shelter Island Drug. We are the first pharmacy in San Diego to provide consultations with clinical pharmacists, prescriptions issued by clinical pharmacists, and lab testing. Patients are able to conveniently schedule a same-day, evening, or weekend appointment online. This means no more taking the day off work or spending hours in a waiting room. All clinic visits take place in a private room in the pharmacy where nobody can hear or see the conversation.

The Pharmacists Clinic is now offering important preventative health services, including consultations and prescriptions for birth control, lab tests, naloxone opioid rescue, and nicotine replacement therapy. We can order and interpret over 2000 lab tests such as cholesterol, thyroid, and blood glucose for very affordable and transparent prices. Women can meet with our clinical pharmacist, Dr. Sally Rafie, for a personalized birth control consultation and leave with a prescription for birth control pills, patch, ring, or shot. We also offer prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy to help our patients quit smoking and naloxone opioid rescue in case of an emergency opioid overdose situation. Services will soon be expanded to include all vaccines and travel meds.

Dr. Sally Rafie, a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and licensed pharmacist, founded the Pharmacists Clinic. Dr. Rafie specializes in women’s health and preventive health. She completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UC San Francisco and residency training at UC San Diego. “People want to take care of their bodies and control their health. We’re here to help make that easier.” – Dr. Sally Rafie

Dr. Rafie is able to offer these services because of a recent law in California that expands the scope of pharmacist practice to increase access to vital public health services and medications. “We’re not here to replace your physicians, but rather offer an additional, convenient point of care and medication expertise. If you have a primary care physician, we will be sure to keep them in the loop.” – Dr. Sally Rafie

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The Pharmacists Clinic and Point Loma Shelter Island Drug have a unique collaboration to offer these clinical services to the Point Loma community! Point Loma Shelter Island Drug is a beloved, family-owned pharmacy established in 1924 and owned by Michael Saad, with a second location called Point Loma Cabrillo Drug.

Male Birth Control With a Flip of A Switch

The future of contraception may allow men to control their fertility with just a flip of an on-off switch! This switch, called the Bimek SLV, was developed by German researchers. This might just be the most innovative uses of technology when it comes to birth control for men.

How exactly does it work?

It’s a small device about the size of a gummy bear that attaches to each of the two spermatic ducts and functions to regulate the release of sperm cells. In its closed state, the device obstructs the release of sperm during ejaculation. It diverts only the flow of the sperm cells, not the ejaculatory fluid. So men can expect to ejaculate normally. Sperm actually makes up only about 5% of the ejaculatory fluid. The rest is made of other substances such as proteins, enzymes, and water.

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Conversely, the valve can be easily switched open and allow the release of sperm, immediately restoring fertility. The sperm cells that are blocked are ejected out of the spermatic duct through several outlets on the device. Outside of the ducts, special cells known as phagocytes break down sperm. The Bimek SLV is proposed as a life-long, hormone-free method for men to control their fertility.

What would the experience of getting this entail?

First off, a medical examination would be required to make sure that he is a good candidate for the device. An incision is made on the testicles and the devices inserted. The procedure to implant the switch is similar to undergoing a vasectomy. Therefore, the risk of complications or adverse effects after insertion is very low. The procedure itself takes only 30 minutes and is done under local anesthesia. And although it only takes only 1 day to recover, it does take 3 to 6 months before the device becomes completely functional and is able to divert sperm from the ejaculatory fluid.

How much does it cost?

Estimated costs for the surgery and the two Bimek SLV valves is about €5000 Euros or about $5,400 US dollars. Pricey, indeed!

It may be years before this device even lands in the US marketplace because it still needs to undergo clinical trials to make sure it’s safe and effective. If everything runs according to schedule, the device is projected to receive European market approval in 2018.

For more information, see the Bimek SLV website.  Or watch this video:


KevinVuPharmDCandidate

About the Author: Kevin Vu is a recent graduate from the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Pharmacist

With tax season just behind us, it’s that time of year where we ask, “Did I get everything I could out of my return?” or “Did I maximize my investments?” These are important financial questions but the same questions can be asked about our own health. Each year we complete our taxes and reflect on the financial decisions we made over the past year. We should be doing the same for our health care decisions, “Am I getting the results I’m looking for from my lifestyle changes?” or “Am I taking my medications correctly?” We get so busy wrapped up in the day-to-day activities that it can be hard to take care of ourselves. And at the end of a long stressful day, a fast-paced doctor’s visit might be overwhelming. Most of us only address recent health problems, like infections, injuries, or emergencies and we often neglect our ongoing health issues.

We live in a society obsessed with quick fixes and convenience, yet many overlook one of the most accessible resources — our local pharmacists. According to Gallup polls from the past several decades, pharmacists are consistently rated as one of the most trusted professions. People turn to their local pharmacist for many different reasons — advice, health education, and help managing complicated diseases. But are we taking advantage of all the benefits our local pharmacists have to offer?

talk to the experts pharmacists services

Your pharmacist can provide 5 key services for you:

  1. Preventative Care: Pharmacists are an access point for screening services for a variety of diseases. They also help you figure out if you would benefit from immunizations. With easy access in most communities, it makes your local pharmacy a one-stop shop for many of your healthcare needs.
  1. Medication Management: A lot of patients have chronic diseases and a pharmacist plays a vital role in helping with medication adherence. It can be as simple as helping to program cell phone medication alarms, pre-record talking medication vials for the visually impaired, or assisting patients in organizing their medications in a weekly pillbox organizer.
  1. Medication Review: Pharmacists play an integral role as the final check between the physician and the patient. Sometimes you might feel like you’re stuck playing a game of telephone and many of the details may get lost in translation. Pharmacists can take a comprehensive look at their your medications, evaluating new medications and how they interact with ongoing medications to help make managing all the recommendations from recent hospital stays, regular office visits, and specialty clinic visits easier for you.
  1. Counseling: Pharmacists work with you to help you understand your diseases, the role of your medications, and side effects to look out for. This increases your ability to consistently take your medications and helps optimize long-term health. Your local pharmacist is also an expert on over-the-counter products for health issues that can be taken care of with self-care, so they can help you answer questions like “How serious is it?” and “When should I see a physician if it doesn’t get better?”
  1. Collaborative Care: Pharmacists work in partnership with physicians and other healthcare providers to help manage medications for chronic conditions — think high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes — and reduce hospitalizations that can lead to unnecessary costs such as lost wages, caregiver fatigue, and expensive medical bills.

So the next time you visit your local pharmacy, make sure you are taking full advantage of all the things your pharmacist can do for you! After all you put time and effort investing in your health, make sure you’re maximizing your return.


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About the Author: Sarah Ross is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.  After graduation, she will be completing her PGY1 pharmacy practice residency at Scripps Mercy in San Diego.

 

(Article image credit: Mai Le)

Hormonal Birth Control Now Available Directly At Pharmacies in California

Like our neighboring state to the north, pharmacists in California can now prescribe and dispense birth control directly to women.  Now this warrants a happy dance!  Women now have another choice in how they get their birth control.  They can either go see their primary care provider, Ob/Gyn, family planning clinic, or go straight to the pharmacy.  At the pharmacy, women will have their choice of birth control pills, patch, ring, or injection.  All thanks to a state law passed back in 2013.  So why the delay?  It took 2 and 1/2 years to develop and approve the protocol because of the multiple rounds of revisions.

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Is this safe?  What about the pap smear?  A pelvic examination and a pap smear are not necessary to initiate hormonal birth control.  They are important for other health reasons.  Women will need to complete a health history questionnaire and have their blood pressure taken at the pharmacy.  This helps the pharmacist figure out which methods of birth control are safe.  If the pharmacist finds something concerning in your health history or if you want a long-acting birth control device like the implant or IUDs, then you’ll be referred to a provider who can help with that.  Ultimately, the goal is to improve access to medications where there is a public health benefit.  After the visit, the pharmacist will send a note to your primary care physician to fill them in — unless you don’t want the pharmacist to do that of course.

Interested in getting your birth control directly from your pharmacist?  Give them a call first to find out if they are providing this service.  Just because pharmacists CAN provide this service doesn’t mean they WILL.  California pharmacists want to participate but they are worried about time constraints at the pharmacy that prevent them from taking the time to do this.  Over time, more and more pharmacists will provide this service.  When you call the pharmacy, ask when would be a good time to come in for this service.  Pharmacies have “rush hours” and the pharmacist will be able to give you more time if you  come in when it’s slower.  Some pharmacies may even make appointments for this service.  In California, women of any age can access this service from a participating pharmacist.  No age minimums and no ID checks.  This service is completely confidential and no information can be shared with your parents or anyone else!

What’s this going to cost me?  If you go to the pharmacist for your birth control visit and fill your prescription, the prescription costs will be covered by your insurance the same as if it was written by a different provider.  Unfortunately, insurance companies aren’t paying pharmacists for the visit like they pay physicians and the long list of others who can provide birth control, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, and even nurses.  So you may have to pay out of pocket for the visit and submit the receipt to your insurance company and hope they reimburse you (if you try this, please let us know if this works or not!).

Is this a good idea?  This is an enormous step forward in increasing access to birth control.  Hopefully women will appreciate having more choices in where to get birth control.  Next steps?  Ideally more states will pass similar laws expanding access with pharmacist prescribing — Tennessee is already moving forward with legislation and many other states are considering it.  There is also growing support for over-the-counter birth control pills.  

Want to consult with Dr. Sally Rafie, PharmD, BCPS about your birth control and get a prescription?  Fill out the contact form and let her know how to reach you.

Ask Dr. Sally: Will Birth Control Get Rid of My Acne?

Blemishes! Breakouts! Acne! Pimples! Zits!

Whatever you want to call them, there’s one thing all those words have in common… we don’t want them! Personally, I didn’t experience acne throughout my teen years. However, once I hit my twenties, (and the rollercoaster of the real world began) life became stressful and my hormones decided to act up. This led to adult acne (No thanks!). When I saw a question about using birth control pills to treat acne asked on our site, I knew I had to answer it due to my personal experience.

Ask Dr Sally Birth Control for Acne

First up: Does birth control get rid of acne?

I’ll give you a quick answer to diminish your anxiety while reading this article. YES! YES, it can get rid of acne!

How does birth control treat acne?

There’s a crystal clear connection between hormones and acne. Acne is stimulated by an excess formation of oil, known as sebum, by the glands in your skin. This eventually has the talent of clogging pores and allowing bacteria to build up. Which hormone causes the production of sebum? Androgens. An example of an androgen would be testosterone. (Side note: Women typically produce lower levels of androgens compared to men.) In women, higher levels of androgen can lead to excess sebum. Therefore, taking a BC that contains estrogen (a hormone) and progesterone (another hormone) can lower the amount of androgens in your body. Voila! Acne can go away now! However, patience is definitely key. This does not happen overnight. It takes about two to three months before the skin clears up.) Why is that? Your body needs time to adapt. Plus, BC helps stop new blemishes but your current ones need to heal on their own.

Before starting birth control, it is important to discuss all options with your health care provider. Other options include antibiotics, sometimes killing the bacteria in your skin pores is all you need (but, resistance can occur!). There are both topical and oral options. You have a vast amount of options when treating your acne!

Which birth control works best?

There are tons of different birth control medications to choose from. Only four of them are FDA-approved to treat acne. These three oral birth control products contain both estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of the natural progesterone hormone). You DO NOT want to use a BC that only has progestin – those pills can actually make your acne worse. Just because a birth control pill isn’t approved for acne, doesn’t mean it won’t work. But there are some formulations that are better than others. Ask us if you have a specific question.

The FDA approved BC products are:

  • Ortho Tri-Cyclen: This pill is approved to treat moderate acne in females ages 15 and above.
  • Estrostep: This pill is approved to treat moderate acne in females ages 15 and above.
  • Yaz and Beyaz: These pills are approved to treat moderate acne for females ages 14 and above.

Are there side effects to worry about?

There are always side effects when taking any medication. The degree of each side effect varies person to person, but some common side effects of taking birth control are nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes, decreased sex drive, weight gain, and change in menstrual flow. Serious risks are rare and include heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Some people shouldn’t take any birth control pills if they have a history of heart disease, hypertension, blood clots/blood clotting disorders, or smokers over the age of 35. (Side note: If you’re a smoker, let’s help you in trying to quit!)

Birth control pills should not be used to treat acne by girls who have not had their period yet.

How can I get the maximum benefit of taking birth control pills when trying to get rid of my acne?

  • Ask your doctor for topical medications that you can use while also on BC.
  • Tell your pharmacist or physician about any other medications that you are taking (there can be drug interactions!).

 

BiancaAbout the Author:

Bianca S. Faridian is a third-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Blog picture from Jade via Flickr.

Safety First for Patients and Providers

Abortion is healthcare.  And no patient, family member, supportive friend, physician, nurse, or other staff member should be worried about being terrorized while accessing or providing healthcare services.  I never worried about this when I worked in a Planned Parenthood clinic.  Perhaps I was a bit naive.  My only goal walking into clinic once a week was: provide the best possible healthcare.  I was a pharmacy resident at the time, so of course I wanted to learn and practice too.  At no point did I look
behind my back or worry about my personal safety.

12307487_10153512358666704_2297390850230863566_oAs most Americans spent their Thanksgiving weekends reflecting on all that they’re thankful for, one community was terrorized by a single man and his backwards motives.  The recent tragedy in Colorado Springs took the lives of three people, each of whom had two children at home.  When I heard the news, it felt like a scene from the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk  was coming to life.  The movie was made nearly 20 years ago in 1996 and I highly recommend it for the powerful performances by Cher, Demi Moore, and other famous actresses.

Living in California, I’m proud of our progressive policies and commitment to providing evidence-based healthcare to serve our communities.  I think that has had a lot to do with my sense of security.  Women living in other states don’t have the same access to abortion, which is a basic healthcare service.  There are states without a single abortion provider or one clinic left standing.  Some women have to travel for hours to get to a clinic.  Other states have waiting periods, ultrasound requirements, or other harmful barriers to timely care.  We have to reverse this trend of restrictive laws being passed.

As a pharmacist, I don’t provide abortions.  I help facilitate access to this important service by ensuring the other healthcare providers who do provide the medications and/or procedures have the medications needed to maximize safety.  If I’m shaken by this event, I can only image what my colleagues who directly provide abortions must be experiencing.

Abortion providers are beyond brave.  I have so much admiration and appreciation for the work they do.  To be clear, they aren’t just providing abortions.  They are providing a range of healthcare services to women (and men too) who need them.  And they do all this with the remote possibility of a terrorist attack.  Or more commonly, hateful protests outside the clinic, on the driveways in front of their homes, or at their children’s schools.  Thank you for taking care of the 1 in 3 women who gets an abortion at some point in her life.  You are my heroes!  I don’t take my reproductive health care and general health care rights for granted and will continue to advocate for them.

At a recent family planning conference, there were protestors outside the meeting space!  Imagine hundreds of healthcare providers at an educational conference and protestors displaying gruesome posters and disseminating inaccurate information to passersby.

This madness has to stop.  The murderous terrorists and aggressive protestors aren’t making a dent in the determination of healthcare providers to serve their patients.  I wish that everyone could keep their opinions to themselves and respect the personal decisions of others.  Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a basic right — or rather should be.

 

For more information and perspectives:

Medical and public health student shares her opinion on what the shooting means for medicine

Physician shares her experience as a health care provider in an age of terror

A timeline of domestic terrorism against healthcare providers

Will Pharmacists Give You Birth Control Without a Prescription? The Survey Says…

For those who may have been following this blog since its inception, you may recall that I was conducting a research project with Dr. Rafie last year. We conducted a survey study to gauge pharmacists’ attitudes towards a recent California law that will allow pharmacists to provide hormonal birth control directly to women without a prescription.

Kevin Vu ACCP MeetingI recently had the opportunity to present my findings at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Global Conference on Clinical Pharmacy. Held in San Francisco, this conference was a gathering of pharmacists from around the world and provided a platform for those in the field to network, share and exchange ideas, as well as learn the latest developments in the pharmacy world.

So what were some of the findings I presented from our survey of community pharmacists in California?

  1. Only half of the pharmacists were familiar with the new law that allows direct pharmacy access to birth control.
  2. Most pharmacists (about 70%) said they were very likely or somewhat likely to participate in this new service. It’s promising to see all the excitement and interest within the pharmacy community around this new authority! We are hopeful that this will manifest as lots of pharmacists actually providing the service when it becomes available. We don’t want women to have to call or visit multiple pharmacies before they find a pharmacist who can help them.
  3. The main reasons for why pharmacists said they wanted to participate in this service was that patients would benefit from improved access and that this service would foster increased use of birth control. This increased use and consistent use could eventually translate to fewer unplanned pregnancies, which currently stands at half (51%) of all pregnancies that occur in the U.S. every year.
  4. Nearly all (98%) of pharmacists feel comfortable intervening if they notice a patient had a drug interaction with their birth control. This is encouraging given that pharmacists are often seen as the final safety check when it comes to medications, ensuring that patients are getting medications that are safe and effective.

As the service is on the brink of being rolled out, I’m glad to say that some California pharmacists have already begun participating in training programs specifically aimed to help prepare them for participation in this service. With time, the hope is that patients and pharmacists across the country will recognize the value of direct access to birth control, and that other states will follow and adopt a similar authority.


KevinVuPharmDCandidate

About the Author: Kevin Vu is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

9 Reasons To Get This Year’s Flu Vaccine

It’s that time of year again!  Time to gear up for the cold and flu season.  The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu infection and its potential health consequences.

  1. This year’s vaccine should be more EFFECTIVE than last year’s.  Last year, there were two strains — one Influenza A and one Influenza B — that evolved after the vaccine was made.  So the vaccine was only effective in 20-25% of cases.  In the few years before last year, the vaccine was effective in around 50% of cases.  We expect to go back to that this year.  We wish it was 100% effective of course.  But wouldn’t you rather prevent 50% of cases of a potentially deadly infection than none?
  2. Young and old most VULNERABLE.  Children and young adults below age 20, along with older adults above age 80, have the highest rates of the flu.Flu Vaccine Young Old Choose Control
  3. Flu KILLS.  People who die from the flu almost always have an underlying medical condition.  Women may be more likely to die from the flu than men.
  4. Everyone 6 months old and older SHOULD get the flu vaccine every year.  This hasn’t always been the case since recommendations have changed.  Infants younger than 6 months will be protected if everyone they have contact with is vaccinated.  The immunity you got from last year’s vaccine has faded over time and you have to get a vaccine again this year.  The vaccine usually changes every year.  There are new flu strains added to the vaccine every year based on what is most likely to be spread that year.  Not enough people are getting this vaccine.  Only 50% of American children and 70% of American adults age 65 and older got the vaccine last year.Flu Vaccine
  5. The vaccine does NOT cause the flu.  It can cause some side effects, like soreness where the injection was given, a fever, coughing, headache, or fatigue.  A severe allergic reaction is very rare — about 1 in 1,000,000 doses — and warrants immediate medical attention.  It takes about 2 weeks for your immune system to respond to the vaccine and fully protect you, so get the vaccine as soon as you can — ideally by October.
  6. Very FEW people should not get the vaccine.  If you have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should not get the flu vaccine.  If you’ve had a severe allergy to any component of the flu vaccine, you shouldn’t get it.  Otherwise, get it!  If you have a fever or aren’t feeling well, wait until you’re feeling better to get it.  Some of the vaccines have a small amount of egg protein, so if you are allergic to eggs let your healthcare prover know so they can be sure to give you a vaccine that is safe for you.  People who can’t get the vaccine for safety reasons rely on everyone else to get it and keep them protected.
  7. PREGNANT women should get the vaccine.  Pregnant women have a higher risk of serious illness due to the flu.  The flu vaccine is an essential element of preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  The vaccine not only protects the mother, but also protects the newborn baby in the first months of life.Flu Vaccine Pregnant Pregnancy Choose Control
  8. Vaccines do NOT cause autism.  I’m not going to get into this issue because you can read all about it from the experts: CDC summary, CDC studies, and American Academy of Pediatrics recent statement.
  9. You have OPTIONS when it comes to the flu vaccines.  There are many different products available, ranging from shots to nasal mists.  You can also visit your doctor’s office or local pharmacy at your convenience to get your flu shot.  The vaccine is typically free with your insurance or from a community-based program.  Worst case, you may have to pay a small fee of about $20 for the vaccine.Flu Vaccine Nasal Flumist

For more information, check out the CDC website for this year’s flu season.


Photos by Seth Capitulo, Anil Jadhav, Tobias Lindman, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District via Flickr

My Pharmacist and Me: How California Pharmacists Can Help Protect Patient Privacy

As pharmacists prepare to step into the ring of providing sensitive family planning services to their patients, it is important to brush up on patient confidentiality strategies, especially as they pertain to teens.

But wait…isn’t that what HIPAA is for?

Well yes… but wait there’s more! Once the statewide protocol for pharmacy access to hormonal contraception gets approved in California, pharmacists are likely to see teens pursue this option as a confidential, convenient way to get effective birth control. As a pharmacist, you should know that in the State of California, minors are allowed to obtain birth control without parental consent. In fact, you legally cannot discuss any family planning issues with a minor’s parents without the patient’s written permission. While you should encourage teens to keep open communication lines with their parents, you need to respect their decision if they choose to keep their sexual health a private matter. Knowing that they can trust their pharmacist to keep their healthcare private is VERY important to teens and they would benefit from being assured that you will keep their information confidential.

How does the ACA affect patient privacy?

The Affordable Care Act not only expanded insurance coverage for young adults through their parent’s plan up to age 26, it also provided complete coverage for birth control for women. This brings up an important dilemma, patients may now have expanded coverage for birth control, but they may be afraid to access it because of privacy concerns. While you have provider-patient confidentiality laws to adhere to, the insurance companies do not have to keep it confidential. This means that if your patient uses her insurance to cover her birth control, but her parent or spouse is the policy holder, then the insurance company could send billing information that reveals services obtained to that policy holder.

keepitconfidential birth control pregnancy test STD teen insurance pharmacy pharmacist

How can I make sure my insurance company keeps my health information confidential?

In California, a law was passed that allows dependents to fill out a Confidential Communications Request form to prevent insurance companies from sending potentially revealing information to the policy holder. Instead information specified in the form will be sent directly to the patient by either email or an alternate mailing address as requested by the dependent. More information for patients and providers can be found at myhealthmyinfo.org.

How can pharmacists help?

This is an important counseling point for pharmacists to review with patients.  Cost can become a big barrier to access when patients do not feel comfortable using their insurance and have to resort to paying out of pocket.  Since this is a new law, pharmacists can help spread the word and direct patients to the website for more information and the form.  Pharmacists should always be aware of their state laws regarding serving minors and confidentiality.


Courtney HeadshotAbout the Author:  

Courtney Miller is in her second year of pharmacy school at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

What California Teens Need to Know About Pharmacy Access to Birth Control

ProviderGuess what California! Having safe sex is about to get a whole lot easier for you in the next few months! We think that increasing access to highly effective forms of birth control is the best way to help prevent unplanned pregnancies and the lawmakers in California agree! A law was passed that is getting ready to rock how you get your birth control in a big way. Starting towards the end of 2015, your local pharmacist can start providing you with more effective forms of birth control in the pharmacy (the pill, the patch, the ring, and the shot)!

This means that you would be able to get your birth control without worrying about making a doctor’s appointment or clinic visit. (Side note: Getting checked out by a doctor regularly is really important! ESPECIALLY, if you are sexually active. It just shouldn’t prevent you from getting effective birth control!) Now if you need birth control you are going to have choices – the doctor’s office, your local family planning clinic, or your local pharmacy!

Who can get birth control at the pharmacy?

First of all, all you ladies out there can use it! Women of all ages — including teens — will be able to use this service. You also don’t need to have insurance or an ID card to get birth control. In California, minors can consent to medical care for the prevention or treatment of pregnancy without parental permission. In fact, legally the pharmacist cannot disclose any information to your parents without your written permission. Of course we know that your parents had sex at least once (hey, you’re here right?) so they probably know a thing or two about sex and birth control. So if you feel comfortable you can always chat with them about any questions you might have and they are welcome to come along to the pharmacy. We know teens like their privacy too; so just know if you don’t want to tell them, we won’t either!

How does pharmacy access to birth control work?

So here’s how it works. It is kind of like when you go get a flu shot from the pharmacist (if you don’t do that you totally should!). You fill out a health screening questionnaire and get your blood pressure taken to make sure that it is safe for the pharmacist to give you birth control and that’s it! The pharmacist will review your questionnaire and talk you about which methods of birth control would be safe for you to use. Then you can discuss how each method works and pick which you like best. The pharmacist will then provide you with birth control supplies just like you would get with a doctor’s prescription and you are good to go.

Keep in mind that not all pharmacies will be providing this service right away. It’s always a good idea to give the pharmacy a quick call to find out if they do before you go in.

How much will this cost me?

There will probably be a small service fee for the screening. This is different than the cost of the medication. If you do have insurance, you will most likely be able to get your prescription filled with no copay. (Thanks Obama!) If you are under your parents insurance, the insurance company might send your parents documents about what you got from the pharmacy. If this is something that you want to keep private, consider filling out a “confidential communication request” for your insurance company. See www.myhealthmyinfo.org for more information and a copy of the form.

What if I don’t live in California?

Basically, this new law is very exciting in the word of birth control. Hopefully once the other states see how much it has helped in California they will follow suit! So if you don’t live in California keep your eyes out changes to come!

What are some trusted sources for more info about birth control methods?

If this gets you excited about birth control, check out these helpful links to help you learn about different methods! These are really cool resources for teens and they break down all the pros and cons of each method. Bedsider includes videos from guys and girls talking about the experiences they’ve had with each method. On their website you can also sign up for text reminders for clinic appointments or to remind you to take your birth control pills, patch, ring, or shot. Planned Parenthood has an interactive quiz to let you know which methods might work best for you. They’ve even got info just for teens.

How can I get my questions answered?

Check out our new resource page just for teens!  If you have any other questions about your sexual health or anything pharmacy related you can submit your question anonymously. Your question will be answered by Dr. Sally Rafie, PharmD, who is a pharmacist and is very passionate about sexual health and how pharmacists can help!


Courtney HeadshotAbout the Author: Courtney Miller just finished her first year of pharmacy school at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is from the central valley which has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in California so this topic is very close to her heart!