In a move that the industry hailed as a step forward for patient testing access, the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday evening issued a guidance allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer FDA-approved COVID-19 tests. The guidance was issued under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Brett Giroir.
"Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it. Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information,” said HHS secretary Alex Azar. “The Trump administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America's heroic healthcare workers.”
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores, which has been vocal about the potential for pharmacists to play a key role in the fight against COVID-19, praised the move.
“The Trump administration, secretary Azar and assistant secretary Giroir have made an important move to empower pharmacists to provide critical patient care in an expanded way in the nation’s response to COVID-19,” said Steve Anderson, president and CEO of NACDS. “Pharmacies and pharmacists already have demonstrated they are here to lead, and will continue to rise to respond to this nation’s most significant health crisis. We look forward to continuing to work with leaders at all levels of government to remove barriers to patient care so pharmacists and pharmacies will be fully empowered and prepared to serve the nation.”
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, NACDS has been urging the Trump administration, including Congress and governors, to enable pharmacies to help patients affected by COVID-19, as well as the role they can play in managing other conditions that might go unmanaged during the pandemic.