Expert: Pharmacy helps combat Lyme disease, doctors not required

SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Thanks to a local pharmacy, Rhode Islanders can now receive antibiotics that help prevent Lyme disease without having to visit a doctor or the emergency room.

Green Line Apothecary, located in Wakefield, became the first pharmacy in the country to offer 200 milligram doses of doxycycline without a doctor’s note.

“You go in, you have to talk, you have to have the tick identified,” Department of Health Pharmacy Inspector Scott Campbell said. “And then if you meet the criteria, you’ll get two tablets of antibiotics.”

According to Campbell, all pharmacies will be able to participate in the program once it becomes part of a collaborative practice agreement and its pharmacists receive training from the University of Rhode Island.

Campbell said consumers who wish to take advantage of the new program must remember to follow a few basic requirements. In particular, the pharmacy can only give antibiotics to patients who are at least eight years old, have had a deer tick attached to their body for at least 36 hours and who removed it no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.

“People either need to bring in a picture of the tick that has to be identified by the URI TickEncounter website, or they need the actually tick itself so that the pharmacist can identify it,” Campbell said.

Prompt treatment is crucial to a successful recovery, according to Campbell, which is why the new program could reduce the chances of Rhode Islanders developing Lyme disease. Campbell said that the illness can cause a number of serious symptoms, which means any reduction in Lyme disease is good news.

“You can have cardiac problems, you can have neurological problems, so it’s not just aches and pains — it can go much beyond that,” Campbell said.