NACDS, CRA urge California to enable pharmacist COVID-19 testing

Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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The National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the California Retailers Association are urging the California Department of Consumer Affairs to take action to help pharmacists and pharmacies ramp up COVID-19 testing as supplies become more available. They said that doing so is critical to protecting Californians and ultimately reopening the state.

NACDS and CRA wrote to director Kimberly Kirchmeyer, asking the department to remove remaining legal barriers to help align with new federal guidance that positions pharmacies and pharmacists to help meet the demand for testing.

CRA and NACDS emphasized that empowering pharmacists is consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that the state is expanding testing locations. The associations also said that pharmacists ultimately will prove vital to a sustainable and scalable point of care testing strategy, and to meeting the needs of underserved communities.

“We respectfully request that the state immediately authorize COVID-19 testing by pharmacists to drive the health of our communities and restore the health of the state’s economy. As the governor and other experts have acknowledged, more testing for COVID-19 in California is desperately needed,” wrote Steve Anderson, NACDS president and CEO, and Rachel Michelin, CRA's president. 

CRA and NACDS are asking the state to take action that would coincide with an April 8 guidance by the Department of Health and Human Services that authorizes pharmacists to order and conduct testing for COVID-19 that the Food and Drug Administration has authorized. Nineteen other states have put into place policies consistent with the HHS guidance.

Looking ahead, the associations also urged the state to prepare now to make an eventual COVID-19 vaccine swiftly available to Californians by assuring pharmacists have the ability to give FDA-backed COVID-19 vaccines. 

Such policies enjoy strong support among Californians. A poll conducted by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS from March 26 to April 2 found that 76% of California voters said pharmacists should be allowed to test for COVID-19, and 78% said they should be allowed to provide a vaccine or other medication to protect against COVID-19.  

CRA and NACDS urged additional actions necessary for pharmacies to safeguard the health of the public and of employees, maintain operations, and help patients stay on their medication therapy. In doing so, they praised some related actions already taken by Newsom during the crisis.