SPOKANE, Wash. – After receiving training from a Washington State University pharmacy 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.

child being checked for strep throat

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

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

There are a small number of other pharmacies nationally taking this approach.

“Community pharmacies are often open extended hours and 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,” Schwartz said.

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 will be using rapid antigen detection testing which gives results within minutes, and if treatment is needed, it can be started immediately. Results from the more traditional throat culture take from 24 to 48 hours, Schwartz said.

Schwartz 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.