TIN Rx is aiming to serve the most vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ patients, homeless patients, and others who may typically face stigma in pharmacies.
A new type of pharmacy has entered the space in San Francisco, with an open house on September 28, 2019. TIN Rx aims to be a "stigma-free" pharmacy that serves the most vulnerable populations, including LGBTQ patients, homeless patients, and others.1
Co-founder Christina Garcia, PharmD, said most of the changes for the LGBTQ population surround prophylaxis and changes in medications for transgender patients, but she still sees significant stigma in pharmacy against LGBTQ patients.
“I needed to create a company where it was significant enough to create a difference,” she said, explaining how TIN Rx hopes to give patients a place to feel at home and comfortable. “My hope and goal is to provide a more inviting experience for patients.”
To that goal, TIN Rx employees have all been trained in how to best provide care to patients that are often stigmatized in many other pharmacies. When they walk in the door, each patient will be offered a personalized consult, the choice between a male or female pharmacist, and a glass of water.
Some of the key aspects to the stigma-free pharmacy are not even in the store, however. Providing discreet packaging for mail-order medications is especially important to maintaining adherence, Garcia said.
If a patient has a roommate, for instance, Garcia said a large package with a pharmacy logo on it can make it difficult for them to subtly receive their medications. Garcia said she invested in sleek packaging, adding to the boutique atmosphere of the store.
Adherence to medications can be especially important for LGBTQ patients taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV by about 99% when taken daily. Among patients who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk by at least 74% when taken daily.2
TIN Rx is the first independent pharmacy in California to dispense PrEP, and on Monday the state's lawmakers signed a bill that allows pharmacists to dispense PrEP without a prescription, for up to 60 days.3 However, TIN Rx offers many more services.
For patients without a primary care provider—another common issue faced by stigmatized patients—TIN Rx has partnered with Plush Care so that patients can quickly speak with a prescriber on their mobile device. They also offer multiple birth control options, as well as a generic sildenafil for a fraction of the brand-name cost.
Garcia said her goal is to leave a legacy and allow her patients to feel safe. TIN Rx will be her 5th pharmacy in California, and while the majority of stigmatized patients are in more metropolitan areas, all of her pharmacies are stigma-free. Many of her patients have faced abuse or have been victims of hate crimes, but Garcia said she is excited to provide a safe space and push forward a new wave of acceptance in the pharmacy profession.
“It’s time for somebody brave in our profession to really lead the new wave,” she said. “There’s going to come a point where we cannot ignore this large community.”