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NACDS reminds legislators of role pharmacies, pharmacists played during pandemic

Ahead of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the pandemic’s lessons, NACDS is urging Congress to keep in mind the role pharmacies and pharmacists have played.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is urging Congress to keep pharmacies and pharmacy teams top of mind tomorrow when legislators convene to evaluate and respond to the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee's hearing.

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson issued a statement related to the hearing titled, Lessons from the Frontline: COVID-19’s Impact on American Health Care.

[Read more: NACDS touts pharmacists' role in administering COVID-19 vaccines]

“NACDS commends Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee chair Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) for holding this hearing," Anderson stated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed again that pharmacy comes through for the American people. Congress is reviewing pandemic preparedness. It is studying what the pandemic’s lessons mean for other aspects of health care — including the prevention and management of chronic disease. The trust, accessibility and equity of pharmacies and pharmacy teams must remain central to that discussion, just as they remain central to this pandemic’s response," Anderson said.

[Read More: NACDS, HPP report highlights role pharmacies play during health emergencies]

Additionally, Anderson said that throughout the pandemic, pharmacies stayed open — lights on, doors open. "Pharmacy teams filled gaps in care when other healthcare destinations and professionals were overrun. They ramped up COVID-19 testing as well as vaccinations for COVID-19 and flu ‚— and for other important vaccinations that were not otherwise readily accessible. They adapted swiftly to rapidly changing government priorities. They now present tremendous capabilities to smooth the patient journey for COVID-19 antivirals. Their accessibility and equity — with a pharmacy within 5 miles of 90% of Americans — bring game-changing capabilities," he said.

“From a global pandemic to meeting people’s day-to-day emergencies, pharmacies remain the face of neighborhood health care. Policies that have empowered their preparedness must not be rolled back and must be enhanced for the ultimate benefit of all Americans. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores looks forward to working with Congress and with the asdministration to ensure that is the case,” Anderson said. 

[Read More: NACDS lauds House committee for advancing INFORM Consumers Act]

NACDS emphasizes key government statistics regarding the role of pharmacies in the COVID-19 response:

  • Pharmacies have given more than 229 million COVID-19 vaccinations as of Feb. 9, 2022;
  • Pharmacies have operated more than 20,000 COVID-19 testing sites nationwide;
  • Pharmacies provide more than two of every three COVID-19 vaccine doses;
  • More than 30% of children ages 5 to 11 years old who have received their COVID-19 vaccination have done so at a pharmacy;
  • Half of pharmacy COVID-19 vaccination sites are located in areas with high social vulnerability;
  • Seventy percent of pharmacy testing sites are in areas with moderate to severe social vulnerability; and
  • More than 40% of those vaccinated at pharmacies are from racial and ethnic minority groups.

The hearing comes on the heels of a poll conducted from Feb.15 to 16, 2022 by Morning Consult and commissioned by NACDS, which found:

  • Two-in-three adults (68%) rate pharmacies’ response to COVID-19 as excellent or good — only two points behind hospitals which top the list of entities tested;
  • When thinking about health care, over 4r-in-5 (86%) of adults indicate that it is easy to access pharmacies, positioning them as the most accessible entities tested; and
  • Four-in-five adults say they have a favorable opinion of their pharmacist (80%).

NACDS also has issued three reports detailing lessons learned and recommendations from the pandemic:

  • Community Retail Pharmacies’ Experience during the COVID-19 Response: Successes and Lessons Learned to Date, a joint report with Health Preparedness Partners;
  • Accelerating the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation’s Mission: Integrating Pharmacy Care into Value-Based Programs Amid COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery and Beyond, a joint report with CapView Strategies; and
  • Striving Toward Health Equity in COVID-19: The Role of Pharmacies in a National Response a joint report with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

[Read More: Pharmacy orgs: Lack of DIR fee reform in budget reconciliation bill affects seniors’ drug savings]

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