On Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom granted California pharmacists the ability to order and administer coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests.1
According to the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), pharmacists may, under certain circumstances, order and collect specimens for authorized COVID-19 tests. Pharmacists may also serve as qualified laboratory testing personnel to perform the tests, but only in an appropriately licensed or registered laboratory, and only under the direction of a laboratory direction, the DCA stated.
The decision follows requests submitted by several pharmacy groups, including the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the California Retailers Association, urging California to remove remaining legal barriers on pharmacists for COVID-19 testing.
Effective May 12, 2020, in accordance to the waiver order issued by the DCA, pharmacists may order tests for the presence of the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in individual patients and without coordination with the patient’s primary care provider or diagnosing prescriber. Under the guidelines, the test must be authorized by the FDA, the pharmacist must be competent and trained to collect the specimen needed, and the specimen must be collected consistent with the provisions of an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
“An estimated 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, and a pharmacy is often the first place people go with their health care questions,” Ken Thai, PharmD, president of CPhA said in a press release.2 “In rural and underserved communities, pharmacists are often the only health care provider that is immediately accessible to patients. Whether it is managing medication, counseling patients, identifying therapies and alternatives, immunizing, or compounding drugs that are in short supply, pharmacists and pharmacy personnel are on the front lines serving their communities now, more than ever, and helping us all cope with this pandemic. This new authority builds on the inherent trust that has existed between patients and their pharmacists since the inception of the profession.”
The approval of the waiver request makes California the 32nd state in the United States to authorize pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.
1. Kirchmeyer K. Important Information for California State Board of Pharmacy Licensees Related to COVID-19 Testing. State of California Department of Consumer Affairs; May 12, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2020. https://www.dca.ca.gov/licensees/pharmacists_covid19_tests_guidance.pdf
2. Pharmacists Granted Authority to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests. News Release. California Pharmacists Association; May 12, 2020. Accessed May 13, 2020. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200512005921/en/Pharmacists-Granted-Authority-Order-Administer-COVID-19-Tests