The Value of the Pharmacist as a First Line of Defense During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Pharmacy Times® interviewed Ned Milenkovich, PharmD, JD, principal and co-chair of the Health Care Law practice group at Much Shelist, on the value of the pharmacist in supporting the health care system during the the flu season and concurrent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic this year.
Alana Hippensteele: What is the value of the pharmacist during the flu season and concurrent COVID-19 pandemic this year?
Ned Milenkovich: Well, remember, pharmacists are a first line of defense. They have broad access to patient populations, they have extended hours—obviously pharmacies are open a long time—they have ready access to patients, they have a trusted relationship with many of their patients, and they have direct access to the medical community, to doctors’ offices, to hospitals, to nurses. And, you know, with the emergency declaration that has been promulgated by Secretary Azar, currently poised to be in effect until October 1 of 2024—not that that wouldn't change, it's a long time [on the] horizon though—this provides an invaluable built-in runway and a pilot to demonstrate that pharmacists can be independently capable of administering a broad swath of vaccines without any bureaucratic hoops and hurdles and inter-professional oversight, such as delegation by other prescribers and standing orders.
Frankly, I might add it shouldn't stop there: Pharmacists should be able to assist the patient with infusions, with injections, such as B12, immunomodulating drugs, lifestyle drugs. You know, there's a lot of opportunity there for pharmacists to be involved directly on the front lines—very accessible professionals [that are] extremely knowledgeable, and it's really sort of an untapped resource, even though pharmacy has been pushing for its own independence. I think this presents a real opportunity for us pharmacists to move the needle.
Alana Hippensteele: Absolutely. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today, Ned. Now let's hear from some of our other MJH Life Sciences brands on their latest headlines.