Youth Friendly Pharmacy Initiative

(Oakland/San Francisco, CA) – The first two Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative (YFPI) trainings, in Spring 2009, were a resounding success, with over 50 participating pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy store managers. Through collaborations with the California Pharmacists Association and Walgreens Pharmacies, YFPI extended its reach to community pharmacies and Kaiser pharmacies throughout the Bay Area.

The YFPI training provided participants with education and resources to offer culturally-relevant services about minor’s rights and access to confidential sexual and reproductive health care services. This training is the second phase of a three-part endeavor spearheaded by Pharmacy Access Partnership, a center of Pacific Institute for Women’s Health and Ousu International Pharmacy to expand pharmacists’ role in providing information and resources to youth.

Overall, participants enjoyed the training and demonstrated an increase in knowledge and awareness about the importance of youth-friendly services. One participant stated that she believed that pharmacies may be a safe space for youth. A Walgreens pharmacist said, “Excellent presentation. I’m definitely going to use the information given today in my pharmacy.”

The Youth-Friendly Pharmacy training will be offered in two other California locations this summer: in the Central Valley and the San Fernando Valley. Subsequently, the training will be available online for CE credit to pharmacists and pharmacy staff throughout California and nationally.

This training facilitates pharmacists’ capacity to better attract, serve and retain youth clients while recognizing and addressing the unique challenges, difficulties and obstacles facing adolescents.

For more information about the Youth Friendly Pharmacy Initiative or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Nicole Monastersky Maderas, MPH at nmaderas@piwh.org.

Factsheet and Video

The YFPI includes collaboration with youth to create relevant and effective materials for pharmacies and pharmacists to enhance youth access in pharmacies. PAP has partnered with Cio’s Angels, a group of young women who meet weekly to discuss teen issues in Marin County, California, to develop a Fact Sheet (PDF-392KB) for youth to reference when seeking sexual and reproductive health services in pharmacies. Also, Cio’s Angels scripted and stared in a Video, “Youth Access in Pharmacies,” – included in the pharmacist’s trainings – and illustrates positive and negative scenarios of youth seeking services in pharmacies.

Youth Access in Pharmacies is Important

To better meet teens’ needs for reproductive health services, PAP is working with pharmacists, pharmacies, medical providers, community based youth serving organizations  and teens to develop and implement a Youth-Friendly Pharmacy Initiative (YFPI) in California that may also be replicated nationally. 

  • While Plan B is now available over-the-counter for consumers 18** and over, teens still need a prescription. However, in California and in eight other states, all women regardless of age can get EC directly from a specially trained pharmacist without first getting a prescription. (**In April 2009, the FDA announced that it will allow 17-year olds to purchase Plan B OTC. Plan B’s manufacturer, Duramed, a subsidiary of Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. must relabel the product before OTC access for 17-year olds can be implemented.)
  • Teens tend to wait longer to seek EC because often times they cannot access a provider or pay for services. In a 2004 consumer survey conducted in California pharmacies, respondents under the age of 16 took more than 24 hours longer to get EC from the pharmacy than older women.
  • Focus group research conducted by PAP and PIWH with adolescent African American and Latina girls in California shows over half of participants frequented the pharmacy regularly, but only 15% knew they could obtain EC directly from the pharmacist. Lack of awareness about EC appears to be higher among young women than their adult counterparts.
  • Teens identified specialized approaches to attract, serve and retain teens as reproductive health clients, including: providers trained to address adolescents’ specific biological, psychological and health needs, reasonably priced services, flexible hours, confidentiality, in-store privacy, provider respect, accurate information, and culturally competent services.
  • Many young people do not have access to a health care provider, do not have transportation to reach health services and may feel shame or embarrassment in visiting a family practitioner for sexual health issues. Pharmacies’ geographical accessibility also makes them an attractive and convenient health venue for teens.

YFPI Components

  • Collaborate with youth to improve awareness of pharmacy services and develop youth-friendly pharmacy resources and tools, including information on comprehensive sexual education
  • Develop and delivering pharmacist training on youth-friendly services
  • Recruit pharmacies to implement youth-friendly services
  • Outreach to youth-based organizations to promote pharmacies offering youth-friendly services
  • Provide youth-friendly tools, policies and practices for teachers and educators

Client-Confidentiality Card (C-Card)

Pharmacy Access Partnership and the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health also developed the C-Card to promote improved access to emergency contraception (EC) for clients in the pharmacy setting, especially for young women.  Research reveals that young women will be more likely to seek services in the pharmacy if it’s possible to have a private conversation with a pharmacist in a crowded pharmacy.  The C-Card is designed to meet this need and to help facilitate a confidential, discreet conversation between pharmacists and their clients.

As shown in the image, part of the C-Card has a message that a woman can tear off and hand to the pharmacist to request EC non-verbally in a discreet manner.  The inside bottom half of the card says, “Dear Pharmacist, I would like to obtain emergency contraception.  Please help me learn about this important back up birth control method in a confidential way.  Thank you.”  The card also provides valuable resource information on accessing EC including the website www.EC-Help.org and toll free hotline 1-800-521-5211. Alternatively, contact https://oehha.org for detailed information on the subject. 

Youth Service Provider’s Guide on Emergency Contraception

In 2008, Pharmacy Access Partnership and the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health created the Youth Service Provider’s Guide for Emergency Contraception. The Guide, available in English and Spanish, details what emergency contraception (EC) is, how adolescents can get EC, facts about adolescents and EC, why EC is important for adolescents, the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents, sexual health counseling basics, and sexual violence, teen pregnancy and EC. To view to Youth Service Provider’s Guide, click here.

For more information about Youth Friendly Pharmacy services, resource or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Nicole Monastersky Maderas, MPH at nmaderas@piwh.org.