This article has been updated with new information.
President Donald Trump has signed a bill that will provide more than $8.3 billion to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Passed by the Senate on March 5 (and approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives), the legislation will provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments.1
Funding includes $300 million to deliver drugs to those who need it, the Associated Press reported.2
Around $61 million will be allotted to the FDA for salaries and expenses to help develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines, advanced manufacturing for medical products, the monitoring of medical product supply chains, and related administrative activities.
The funding is needed as coronavirus cases escalate in the United States. As of March 6, 14 people in the US have died from COVID-19, and there are at least 233 confirmed cases.3
Meanwhile, pharmacists and pharmacy groups continue to educate public health officials and the public about how they can assist in the crisis.
“Community pharmacists are an integral part of a robust and successful national response. Community pharmacy is perfectly situated to intervene and provide meaningful services,” NCPA wrote in a letter to Robert Kadlec, MD, assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response at HHS.4
Ninety-one percent of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, NCPA pointed out. And more than two-thirds of its members provide immunizations and offer home/work site delivery of medication.
Community pharmacists can provide up-to-date influenza and pneumonia vaccinationsm which are beneficial in the event a patient did contract COVID-19, NCPA said. In addition, “Independent pharmacies are perfectly positioned to mass immunize once a vaccine is developed for COVID-19,” according to NCPA.
Pharmacists can also prescribe medications via collaborative practice agreements “and keep primary care practices, emergency rooms, and hospitals clear for truly meaningful cases,” NCPA said.
NACDS also said in a press release that Americans trust pharmacies and pharmacists for information about medications, and about other issues of health and wellness. “The public appreciates the accessibility of pharmacies and pharmacists, and knows pharmacies and pharmacists have been there for them before,” NACDS said.5
1. Lowey N. 116th Congress 2D Session; Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020 and for other purposes. March 4, 2020. https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20200302/BILLS-116hr6074-SUS.pdf.
2. Taylor A. Trump set to sign $8.3B bill to fight coronavirus outbreak. Associated Press. March 6, 2020. https://apnews.com/2d5988d176e02fa5439ed5c31b6bd6f6.
3. Kim S. Coronavirus US Outbreak Update: Death Toll Reaches 14, With New Cases in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, Maryland, Texas. Newsweek. March 6, 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/corona-virus-update-new-cases-death-tolll-washi...
4. NCPA. Letter to Robert Kadlec, MD. March 2, 2020. http://www.ncpa.co/pdf/NCPA-Kadlec-COVID19-Letter.pdf.
5. NACDS. Statement: COVID-19. March 4, 2020. https://www.nacds.org/pdfs/government/2020/NACDS-COVID-19-Statement.pdf.