CVS Pharmacy today announced that pharmacists at more than 9,000 of its locations can clinically assess COVID-19 positive patients and, if eligible, prescribe Paxlovid, an oral antiviral treatment. CVS Pharmacy is the first to offer the service nationwide.
In July, the Food and Drug Administration recognized the clinical capabilities of pharmacists and granted them the authority to evaluate patients with COVID-19 and prescribe Paxlovid to clinically eligible patients. After evaluating the FDA’s guidance and implementing required systems, policies and training, CVS Pharmacy is now offering the service in 49 states, Washington and Puerto Rico.
“Enabling pharmacists to evaluate patients and prescribe Paxlovid when clinically appropriate increases patient access and reduces barriers to care and treatment for those who need it,” said Prem Shah, executive vice president, CVS Health, and president and chief pharmacy officer at CVS Pharmacy. “Paxlovid has proven to be an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 by helping to reduce the severity of symptoms in patients at high risk for severe cases of the illness.”
Symptomatic patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 can visit CVS.com or the CVS Pharmacy app to seek care and potential treatment through an over-the-phone assessment with their local pharmacist. Prior to clinical assessment by a pharmacist, patients are asked to complete a series of screening questions online to determine eligibility and must attest to having tested positive for COVID-19.
“One of the important benefits of this service is the convenience it affords our patients,” Shah said. “We are already seeing that some patients can log into the digital scheduler, schedule an appointment, be evaluated by a pharmacist and receive their medication in just a few hours, which is critical for this medication to be effective.”
For a pharmacist to prescribe Paxlovid to clinically eligible patients, the patient must have had certain bloodwork performed in the past 12 months and must provide supporting documentation or electronic records. Pharmacists are required to review a patient’s kidney and liver blood test values before prescribing Paxlovid. Not all pharmacist assessments will result in a prescription. Data provided by the patient during the eligibility screening, as well as notes from the pharmacist’s assessment, are securely stored in the patient’s electronic health record and shared with their primary care provider ensuring continuity of care across the patient’s healthcare team.
Patients who opt to seek clinical assessment and treatment for COVID-19 from a CVS pharmacist are responsible for an upfront payment, which varies by insurance. Due to federal regulations, patient care services provided by pharmacists are not covered by Medicare or certain state Medicaid plans and CVS Pharmacy is unable to bill for these services.
In addition to pharmacists evaluating and treating COVID-19 positive patients, select CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations are offering bivalent COVID-19 booster doses to adults and children five years of age and older. Appointments at CVS Pharmacy can be scheduled digitally through CVS.com or the CVS Pharmacy app, and appointments at MinuteClinic can be scheduled through MinuteClinic.com, with times available seven days a week, including evening and weekend hours.
Bivalent vaccines offer better protection against COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant and have been authorized for use as a single booster dose at least two months after primary or booster vaccination. The CDC has said that COVID-19 vaccinations may be co-administered with the flu vaccination. The digital scheduler allows patients to schedule a bivalent COVID-19 booster and flu vaccination during the same visit.
With the likelihood of cold, flu and COVID-19 cases increasing as winter approaches, CVS Pharmacy has ensured ample supply of at-home COVID-19 tests kits. Available tests include a new CVS Health brand test that features a QR code with a link to instructions for a pharmacist assessment for Paxlovid when testing positive. At-home COVID-19 tests can be secured through a patient’s prescription benefit plan or by paying out-of-pocket and can be purchased in-store, purchased online and delivered, or purchased online and picked up in store at no cost. Because commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans vary, patients should contact their insurance provider to confirm their coverage policy and claims submission process.