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WSU, Albertsons partner to provide strep throat testing

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

Schwartz-80SPOKANE, Wash. – After receiving training from a Washington State University professor and in collaboration with a local physician, pharmacists at eight Albertsons/Sav-on pharmacies in the Spokane area have begun testing for and treating strep throat.

The service provides quicker access to care for those who suspect they have strep throat, said Catrina Schwartz, the WSU pharmacy professor who provided the training in November. This could result in quicker treatment and recovery, a reduced chance of secondary complications and less cost to patients and outpatient emergency rooms, she said.

“We want to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to people,” said Shon Volk, an Albertsons/Sav-on pharmacy manager in Spokane and coordinator of this program for the company. He is a graduate of the WSU pharmacy program and initiated the strep throat training for 20 company pharmacists, including himself.

A small number of pharmacies nationally are taking this approach.

“Community pharmacies are often open extended hours, Schwartz said. “Providing access to strep throat testing at these pharmacies allows sore throat sufferers a way to get care when their regular doctor’s office is closed and their only alternative would be an urgent care clinic or emergency room.”

Recently published research in the American Journal of Managed Care indicates pharmacist-provided care for the diagnosis and treatment of strep throat was the most cost effective among the seven different treatment options studied, Schwartz said.

The pharmacists are using rapid antigen detection testing, which gives results within minutes; so if treatment is needed, it can be started immediately. Results from the more traditional throat culture take 24-48 hours, Schwartz said.

She is director of the applied patient care laboratory at the WSU College of Pharmacy where students learn to apply their knowledge. She has taught the strep throat testing method in the lab.



Lorraine Nelson, WSU College of Pharmacy communications,, 509-368-6671

Christine Wilcox, Albertsons vice president of communications,, 208-395-4163 or 208-409-9876

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