Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) administration has decided that in-state and out-of-state health care providers can treat patients via telemedicine temporarily during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Additionally, Pennsylvania will allow certain out-of-state pharmacies to ship goods into Pennsylvania and permit remote supervision of pharmacies by telephone or computer.1

Out-of-state pharmacies that wish to ship goods into Pennsylvania will temporarily be able to do so without the requirement of a nonresident pharmacy registration for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. These pharmacies may ship goods into Pennsylvania provided that the nonresident pharmacy has a business relationship with a Pennsylvania pharmacy, is licensed in good standing in their home state, and the pharmacies each have access to common patient files.1,2

The change comes as certain chain drug stores, such as CVS, are implementing additional clinical services and preparing to offer testing for the COVID-19 from its 6400 pharmacists across the United States.3

“Temporarily lifting certain requirements and restrictions allows qualified pharmacy professionals to more easily provide essential services,” said Kathy Boockvar, secretary of state, in a press release.1 “This measure will help to ensure that Pennsylvanians continue to receive the medications and pharmacy services they need.”

This remote supervision order will allow pharmacy technicians and interns to dispense medicine without a supervising pharmacist on the premises. That improves the social distancing measures that are important to stopping the spread of the virus.1,2

Wolf also granted the suspension of certain licensure requirements to allow expedited temporary licensure to pharmacy practitioners and pharmacies in other states so that they can provide goods and services to Pennsylvanians during the COVID-19 pandemic.1

He also suspended the regulation that requires a pharmacy to immediately turn in its permit if it closes or ceases operations. Instead, during the COVID-19 emergency, a pharmacy that temporarily closes for more than 24-hours must notify the state board of pharmacy and provide a plan for continuity of patient care.1

Finally, for licensed pharmacists who also have an authorization to administer injectables, the department is temporarily suspending the requirement that the pharmacist hold an active CPR certificate, as long as the pharmacist’s CPR certificate was valid on March 17, 2020. Under these circumstances, the CPR certificate will be extended and accepted as valid through December 31, 2020.2

The Department of State is working with Wolf’s office, the state health department, and Pennsylvania Human Services Department to identify regulations and requirements that can be suspended to give health care providers and facilities the flexibility they need to respond to COVID-19.1

 Reference
  1. Sheenan, Daniel Patrick. Pennsylvania pharmacy regulations suspended to streamline care during coronavirus emergency. The Morning Call website. Published March 22, 2020. https://www.mcall.com/coronavirus/mc-nws-coronavirus-pharmacy-rules-lifted-20200322-nlqri62aszddpm7javxyju3x5m-story.html. Accessed March 24, 2020.
  2. Pennsylvania removes pharmacy regulations to provide more access. WBNG website. Published March 22, 2020. https://wbng.com/2020/03/22/pennsylvania-removes-pharmacy-regulations-to-provide-more-access/. Accessed March 24, 2020.
  3. Japsen, Bruce. Rite Aid: Pharmacist Role Will Expand Amid Coronavirus Outbreak. Forbes. Published March 16, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2020/03/16/amid-coronavirus-rite-aids-ceo-says-pharmacists-on-frontlines/#1a2f237615cb. Accessed March 24, 2020.