Industry organizations are praising a new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the National Community Pharmacists Association separately lauded the guidance, which supersedes any state or local measures that prohibit pharmacists from ordering and administering a COVID-19 test.
NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson noted that the organization has been urging clarity in public policy and the removal of barriers to pharmacists testing for COVID-19. He also said that in the aftermath of HHS's April 8 guidance, which authorized pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, there were still questions about how it impacted policy at the state level. Anderson said NACDS has been pushing for removing state-level barriers while calling for clarity on federal policies in order to help scale up testing — achieving results in 34 states through various approaches.
"NACDS will be discussing with our committees, councils and task forces the effects of HHS’ most recent, and seemingly pivotal, advisory opinion," Anderson said. "We will determine the appropriate path forward to ensure the removal of any remaining barriers, to continue to address reimbursement issues related to COVID-19 testing, and to ensure pharmacies and pharmacists are empowered all the more to help protect public health and to help reopen our states and nation for good."
Finally, Anderson said that it is clear that it will remain critical to continue to remove barriers on the host of issues related to pharmacy’s role in COVID-19 response.
"As noted in the report issued by NACDS last week — “Pharmacies: A Vital Partner in Reopening America” – we must ensure an efficient pathway for deploying COVID-19 treatments and vaccines when they are available," he said. "We already are engaged in the important work of ensuring the proven record of pharmacies and pharmacists is leveraged."
NCPA also praised the HHS opinion.
"More widespread testing is the key to winning this battle. The faster we can expand testing, the sooner we can get back on our feet economically," NCPA said. "Pharmacists are the country’s most accessible health care providers and they have been on the front lines since the beginning of the pandemic. They are well positioned to expand testing rapidly and safely."
The organization noted that it highlights that the government sees the potential role pharmacists can play in helping test for COVID-19.
"During this pandemic, the federal government's position is that this emergency measure preempts arbitrary state and local rules that prevent pharmacists from serving their patients in a way the country desperately needs right now," NCPA said. "There are 21,000 independent pharmacists across the country. Thanks to the secretary’s decision, they can now make an even bigger contribution to the war against COVID-19.”