NACDS urges pharmacy policies to remain amid COVID-19

Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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The National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson have written to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, chair of the National Governors Association, and to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, vice-chair of the NGA.

The note is urging bipartisan leadership in encouraging states to maintain policy flexibilities that help pharmacies meet patients’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and in anticipation of flu season.

In the letter, Anderson stated, “Given your roles as chair and vice-chair of the National Governors Association, I am writing with grim concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 response and economic recovery if states fail to provide certainty in the policies under which pharmacies and pharmacists are serving their patients and communities. I urge you to leverage your bipartisan leadership roles to raise awareness of the need to sustain the critical policy flexibilities that have been put into place to help pharmacies and pharmacists meet the health and wellness needs of Americans.”

Anderson went on to say that NACDS represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. NACDS members operate over 40,000 pharmacies and include regional chains with a minimum of four stores and national companies. Chains employ nearly 3 million individuals, including 155,000 pharmacists.

He continued, “The leadership from the National Governors Association is needed. It is important for states to recognize that now is not the time to roll back the level of preparedness that has been created. It also is critical to recognize the unworkability of a lurching, stop-and-start approach to pharmacy policy — and that this unworkability can have implications across state borders and throughout regions."

Anderson explained that given the unprecedented demands of helping to meet patients’ needs related to COVID-19 and related to other illnesses and conditions, pharmacies have made large-scale investments in infrastructure, equipment, technology and processes.

"Such investments have focused on innovative COVID-19 services, maximizing the safety of pharmacy teams and customers, ensuring wise approaches to staffing, building remote prescription processing capabilities, expanding delivery options, and much more. If governors bring to an end the executive orders that made it reasonable to embark on these innovations for the ultimate benefit of public health — even if the expectation is that the flexibilities may be restored at some point in the near future — such actions disrupt, discourage and disregard the spirit of partnership and the continuity of business.”

Anderson concluded, “We all can agree this is a critical time. It is essential that pharmacies continue to have available to them the policies that help to keep pharmacies open, to help protect patients and pharmacy staff, to help patients stay on their medication therapies, and more. It also is imperative that pharmacies have the full capability to continue to ramp up COVID-19 testing, and to prepare completely for the imminent flu vaccination season and ultimately for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. As has been the case throughout this severe public health crisis, NACDS stands committed to working with you and with all governors to help advance policies that are essential to our work together for public health and safety and for economic recovery. We need your partnership and we need your help.”

More information about NACDS’ policy recommendations is available in the report Pharmacies: A Vital Partner in Reopening America.