COVID-19 Update: Pharmacy Meetings Cancelled, New Law Expands Florida Pharmacists’ Roles

Mar 13, 2020

An update on how COVID-19 is affecting pharmacy.

Three major spring meetings for pharmacists have been cancelled due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Meanwhile, a new bill signed into law allows Florida pharmacists to provide more health care services to alleviate some of the pressures on hospitals and acute settings, according to news reports.1

APhA made the “difficult but necessary” decisions to cancel its APhA 2020 Meeting and Exhibition, which was to be held March 20-23 in National Harbor, MD, the organization said on its website.2

“Based on the latest guidance from public health officials, the travel bans implemented by different institutions, an expanding number of local cases of COVID-19 being reported, the WHO’s declaration of a global pandemic, and guidance from state and federal officials, it became clear to us that canceling was the right course of action,” APhA said.2

NACDS was also forced to cancel its 12th Annual NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, which was planned for March 10 to 11, the organization said in an email. “Over 400 advocates from across the nation were set to attend to make a huge impact for pro-patient and pro-pharmacy policies.”

Because it is still “vitally important to educate Congress about the biggest issues facing pharmacy: pharmacy closures, Medicare Part D, DIR fee reforms, and privacy protections,” NACDS is urging pharmacists and others to visit its NACDS RxIMPACT website to send personalized letters to their elected officials.3

The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) also cancelled its 2020 ACCP Spring Forum, which was to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, April 25 to 26. “The ACCP Spring Forum is an important venue for professional development and networking. However, ACCP’s highest priority is the health and safety of our attendees and faculty,” the organization said in an email.

In some positive news for pharmacists, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law allowing pharmacists to test and initiate treatment for influenza and Group A Streptococcus.

“The bill will improve convenient access to quality care while removing avoidable pressures on hospitals and acute settings–a meaningful benefit at all times, and a benefit that is top-of-mind amid demanding public health situations ranging from flu outbreaks to the current coronavirus concerns,” NACDS said in a press release.1

In addition, the serious drug shortages anticipated due to production delays in China have not yet come to pass, NPR reported.4

“Many facilities are back online after production interruptions related to the coronavirus response. Others say they were far enough from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan to continue working immediately after the extended Chinese New Year break,” NPR said.4

Still, facilities that are almost back to normal are anticipating a second wave of setbacks. "A lot of our suppliers still are not answering phones because they can't get to work or their site isn't open," Elut Hsu, president of Morrisville, NC-based Asymchem, Inc., which has eight facilities in northeast China that manufacture drugs and drug ingredients, NPR reported.4

References:

1. Florida Expands Access to Care through Pharmacy Healthcare Destinations [news release]. NACDS’ website. https://www.nacds.org/news/florida-expands-access-to-care-through-pharmacy-healthcare-destinations/.
2. American Pharmacists Association. APhA Meeting Update. APhA’s website. https://www.pharmacist.com/apha2020update.
3. NACDS. Virtual Hill Day: Congress’ Agenda Means Pharmacy Advocacy is Still Critical. https://www.votervoice.net/NACDS/campaigns/72405/respond.
4. Lupkin S. How Coronavirus Is Affecting The US Pharmaceutical Supply. NPR. Published March 12, 2020. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/12/814623335/how-coronavirus-is-affecting-the-u-s-pharmaceutical-supply.

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