Pharmacy Groups Praise HHS Guidance Allowing Pharmacists to Provide COVID-19 Testing

April 9, 2020

Expanding COVID-19 testing is "a critical component in our nation's efforts to reduce the number of cases, ease burdens on our over-utilized hospitals and clinics, and protect the safety of our communities," the Pharmacists for Healthier Lives coalition said.

A coalition of national and local pharmacy organizations is praising the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to allow licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests during the new coronavirus disease pandemic.

“Pharmacists, in partnership with other healthcare providers, are well positioned to aid COVID-19 testing expansion. Pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals with established relationships with their patients,” HHS said in an April 8 guidance.1 "The vast majority of Americans live close to a retail or independent community-based pharmacy. That proximity reduces travel to testing locations, which is an important mitigation measure.”

“The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a healthcare professional for many Americans,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, MD, in a press release.2 “This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our healthcare workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”

Related: Communicating with Patients in the Time of COVID-19

Expanding testing for the COVID-19 virus is “a critical component in our nation’s efforts to reduce the number of cases, ease burdens on our over-utilized hospitals and clinics, and protect the safety of our communities,” the Pharmacists for Healthier Lives coalition said in a press release provided to Drug Topics®.

The coalition is made up of several organizations, including ASHP, NCPA, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy.

“As one of the nation’s most accessible healthcare professionals –90% of our population lives within 5 miles of a pharmacy–pharmacists are on the front lines of this crisis, and already play a vital role in providing information and health services to patients in a variety of settings,” the coalition said. "This decision will also help to reduce the burden on our hospitals and clinics, allowing them to dedicate more resources to patient care.”

“Our nation’s pharmacists stand ready to continue our fight against COVID-19 and are dedicated to all they can to ensure we come out of this pandemic as strong as possible,” Pharmacists for Healthier Lives added.

References:

1. US Department of Health & Human Services. Guidance for Licensed Pharmacists, COVID-19 Testing, and Immunity under the PREP Act. HHSl April 8, 2020.  https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/authorizing-licensed-pharmacists-to-order-and-administer-covid-19-tests.pdf.
2. HHS Statements on Authorizing Licensed Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19. News Release. HHS; April 8, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2020. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/04/08/hhs-statements-on-authorizing-licensed-pharmacists-to-order-and-administer-covid-19-tests.html.