What is PhRESH?
PhRESH stands for Pharmacists for Reproductive Education and Sexual Health. We are a student organization out of the University of Washington School of Pharmacy. PhRESH is made up of pharmacy students and has a dedicated faculty mentor, Dr. Don Downing. The mission of our group is both to educate ourselves as developing student pharmacists as well as help educate the community on reproductive and sexual health topics. Additionally we design and participate in outreach projects in the community to increase access to reproductive and sexual health services.
What is Project Safe Haven?
You may hear about “Project Safe Haven”. Project Safe Haven is the internal moniker PhRESH has used to discuss our project of creating a network of “Youth Friendly Pharmacies”. We believe that pharmacists are the community’s most accessible healthcare provider. Pharmacies are more abundant, provide walk-in services and open later, some even with 24/7 access, all with a well trained health care provider at the ready. As such, community pharmacies are a largely untapped resource when it comes to providing urgent medical care. The network of “youth friendly pharmacies” we build will be shared with local high schools, colleges and the community at large as a way to promote better access to important sexual health services.
What is a Youth Friendly Pharmacy?
A “Youth Friendly Pharmacy” is a pharmacy dedicated to providing a safe, welcoming environment where youths and adults alike can find sexual health services without embarrassment or fear of rejection. The primary service that a Youth Friendly Pharmacy will provide is prescribing emergency contraception. In the future additional services such as prescribing general contraception and providing chlamydia screenings will be added to the list of possible services a Youth Friendly Pharmacy provides.
Why prescribe emergency contraception when it is provided over the counter?
There are two main benefits to providing emergency contraception via prescription.
1. If emergency contraception is prescribed, many insurance plans will cover the cost of the medication at no cost to the patient. OTC (over the counter) Plan B can cost around $49.99 +tax retail. This can be a significant barrier to access, especially to younger patients.
2. Plan B, or levonorgestrel, is provided over the counter in many pharmacies, however, Ella, ulipristal acetate, is available only by prescription. Ella has been shown to be more effective than plan B. Plan B can be effective for up to 5 days but loses efficacy each day. Ella, on the other hand, is effective up to 5 days and doesn’t lose any efficacy in that 5 day window. Ella’s superior efficacy is accentuated for patients who have experienced any delays in seeking care.