We thank Drug Store News for welcoming an update on the industry’s COVID-19 response. We value our partnership.
I am sure that the Drug Store News team will agree that any such report will include, first and foremost, reverent appreciation for those on the front lines of this public health emergency. Pharmacists, pharmacy staff and team members throughout the store stand among the heroes of this pandemic. The same is true of personnel from supplier partners, who are helping to assure people have the supplies that they need.
CDC on Pharmacy Value
NACDS primarily is focused on assuring that these heroes have what they need from a public policy standpoint amid COVID-19. In fact, representatives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, told NACDS members during a conference call that their operations are critical to our nation’s successful handling of a pandemic. The CDC urged a focus — and collaboration — to help assure pharmacy continuity, to help keep the public and pharmacy personnel healthy, and to help maintain clear lines of communication and situational awareness between pharmacies and community leaders.
Removing Barriers to Patient Care
Our message to the federal and state governments is clear and to the point: Barriers need to be removed immediately to assure these individuals and companies can be fully prepared to meet the extraordinary crush of demands that will result from COVID-19. This relates to the ability of pharmacies and pharmacists to help those affected by COVID-19. It also relates to helping those affected by other illnesses who may otherwise be on the outside looking in at an overwhelmed healthcare system.
NACDS is making our case in very, very specific terms to all levels of government about the exact barriers that need to be removed. Barrier removal relates to helping keep pharmacies open; helping to prevent and address any medication supply issues; assuring pharmacies and pharmacists are empowered to provide COVID-19 testing, medications and vaccines when developed; and helping to reduce pressures on hospitals, physician practices and urgent clinics.
NACDS issued an open letter to the White House, to the Congressional leadership and to all of our governors. We urged them “to not let our pharmacists be unnecessarily hamstrung by needless restrictions that prevent the Americans we serve from receiving care.”
Removing Barriers to Critical Products
NACDS also was among 111 organizations that wrote to these constituencies to urge a uniform definition of “critical infrastructure” — a term that affects whether manufacturers continue to operate. This coalition also recommended taking care that transportation and workforce policies do not create artificial barriers to product shipment.
Public Opinion Insights
NACDS received the results of a national survey conducted by Morning Consult, and commissioned by the association, from March 26-28. In the survey, voters strongly support the issues that NACDS is raising.
- Pharmacies maintain the highest accessibility score of health destinations tested;
- Three in four (76%) respondents agreed that COVID-19 has shown pharmacies’ importance for public health, and governments must remove barriers that prevent their full utilization;
- An amazing 86% support pharmacist-provided COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations reflect the prior survey’s support level for these services relative to other illnesses; and
- Overall, respondents are as likely to believe pharmacists have a role in helping patients deal with COVID-19 as in helping them with other illnesses.
As we continue to respond to this public health emergency together, NACDS invites Drug Store News readers to visit our industry resource portal at NACDS.org/Prepared.
Thank you for all you are doing to rise up for and with America.
Steve Anderson is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.