Safeway, UCSF School of Pharmacy partner on smoking-cessation program

Program described as first of its kind to operate across network of pharmacies

NEW YORK — Safeway pharmacists will use a program developed by the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy to help people quit smoking, under a partnership with the supermarket operator announced by the university.

Safeway pharmacists will receive training in smoking-cessation counseling techniques developed by the UCSF pharmacy faculty, while stores will locate OTC nicotine-replacement therapies near pharmacy areas, giving customers convenient access to the pharmacist.

"Pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients within their own communities, but we haven't maximized their expertise in that setting," UCSF School of Pharmacy interim dean B. Joseph Guglielmo said. "This project offers Safeway customers the full patient-care skill set of pharmacists with a goal of helping customers prevent and manage their chronic medical conditions."

Source: CDC

Safeway SVP pharmacy, health and wellness Darren Singer, said the partnership would mark the first time a smoking cessation intervention had been applied systematically across a network of pharmacies.

"We are proud to partner with the UCSF School of Pharmacy on this effort to help our customers quit smoking and live healthier lives," Singer said. "Our pharmacists are, at all times, ready to help customers reach their health and wellness goals."

At first, the project will focus on 20 stores in northern and southern California and will expand throughout 2013 to hundreds of Safeway pharmacies throughout the country.

The program uses a streamlined version of the pharmacy school's Rx for Change tobacco-cessation program, which it created for training healthcare providers nationwide. Under the program's "Ask, Advise, Refer" model, pharmacists ask patients whether they smoke as a standard health screening question while filling prescriptions, advising smokers to quit, offering them information on medication options available and referring them to the California Smokers' Helpline, a free telephone counseling system at the University of California San Diego.

"We know there are several medications that have significant interactions with tobacco smoke, so this is a question every pharmacist should be asking already," UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy interim chairwoman Lisa Kroon said. Kroon developed the curriculum with two other professors, and the project will include a three-month study by researchers from the school, starting early this year, to assess the effect of having pharmacists who are specially trained in smoking cessation.

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