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APhA: Underserved Communities Lack Access to Test to Treat Sites

Communities who are undeserved and vulnerable to COVID-19 were found to be not have much-needed access to test-to-treat location, according to an analysis by the American Pharmacists Association.

Underserved and vulnerable communities do not have equitable access to care from COVID-19 Test to Treat sites, according to a new analysis1 from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

While there are more than 28,000 community pharmacies located in federally recognized underserved communities, only 700 Test to Treat sites have been established in those areas, according to APhA’s analysis. 

“Tapping the pharmacies in these areas could increase access to treatments by about 3900%,” APhA said.

Only 22% of Test to Treat sites are in the most vulnerable areas in the country as defined by the Social Vulnerability Index. And only 30% of sites are in medically underserved areas within the United States, APhA found.

“Although [the Department of Health & Human Services] has recognized the high level of training pharmacists receive by authorizingpharmacists to prescribe COVID-19 therapeutics, FDA’s emergency use authorizations for oral COVID-19 antivirals specifically exclude pharmacists as prescribers,” APhA said in a news release.2,3 As a result, the majority of pharmacies cannot serve as Test to Treat sites.

“These medications are being underutilized and sitting on pharmacy shelves, which unnecessarily increases health care costs and puts lives at risk,” APhA said.

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APhA is calling on the federal government to include pharmacists as prescribers of oral COVID-19 antivirals to “significantly increase equitable access to Test to Treat pharmacies by opening the door to communities that need it the most.”

References

1. Inequity to COVID-19 Test to Treat access — Pharmacists can help if permitted. Report. American Pharmacists Association. Published May 17, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.pharmacist.com/Advocacy/Issues/Inequity-to-COVID-19-Test-to-Treat-Access-Pharmacists-can-help-if-permitted

2. Ninth amendment to declaration under the public readiness and emergency preparedness act for medical countermeasures against COVID-19. Federal Register. US Department of Health & Human Services. Published September 14. 2021. Accessed May 18. 2021. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/14/2021-19790/ninth-amendment-to-declaration-under-the-public-readiness-and-emergency-preparedness-act-for-medical

3. Inequity to COVID-19 Test to Treat Access — Pharmacists can help if permitted. News release. American Pharmacists Association. May 18, 2022. Accessed May 17, 2022.


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