As fall begins, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to dominate the news cycle.

Much of the coverage centers on when a vaccine will be available and whether it will be effective and safe. Many are also wondering if a large percentage of individuals opposed to vaccinations in general will opt out. In addition, there are also concerns that others who normally get vaccinated will skip this one, for fear that its development has been rushed.

Directions in Health-System Pharmacy™ has continued to stay ahead of the curve in terms of this emerging situation, with continuing coverage of the various clinical trials under way, a summary of all trials in the race to develop the vaccine, and pharmacists’ potential role in administering the vaccine once it is available.

As we head into flu season, count on Directions in Health-System Pharmacy™ to continue to report on the latest developments on COVID-19, not just in terms of a potential vaccine, but in all the ways the pandemic has affected patients and pharmacists in 2020. This ranges from pandemic management strategies for patients with cancer, to the increased use of telehealth, to differentiating COVID-19 symptoms from allergies or other illnesses.

In this edition, in the Safe Handling article titled “Consider Real Costs Before Implementing a 340B Program,” contributors Kenneth Maxik, MBA, MBB; Craig Kimble, PharmD, MBA, MS, BCACP; and Alberto Coustasse, MD, MBA, MPH, discuss how changes at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could hurt many health systems that are already struggling due to the pandemic.

“Hospitals must take a systematic approach and undertake financial calculations to ensure a clear understanding of the program’s real cost,” they write.

Outside of COVID-19, Directions in Health-System Pharmacy™ Editor-in-Chief Curtis Haas, PharmD, FCCP, looks at patient assistance programs (PAPs) and discusses why maximizer programs may lead to the dwindling or death of PAPs.

“But rest assured other strategies to nullify the management of expensive drug benefits will emerge from the industry…and then the other parties will identify countermeasures,” he contends.

Also in this issue are articles on gastric cancer treatments and the different platforms that offer rapid detection of bloodstream infections, as well as a look at anticoagulants and antiretrovirals preventing strokes in atrial fibrillation for patients with HIV. Thank you again to pharmacists for all your hard work every day of every year and particularly during these critical times. We salute your professionalism and passion for protecting patients and your communities.

Please stay safe!

REFFERENCE

Nguyen NL, Nguyen S, Leung CL, Nguyen H, Gogineni H. Summary of current SARS-CoV-2 vaccine trials. Pharmacy Times®. September 3, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2020. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/summary-of-current-sars-cov-2-vaccine-trials