It goes without saying that 2020 was a difficult year, to say the least.

As of press time, nearly 1.5 million individuals globally and more than 273,000 in the United States have died from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with millions more in hospitals and ailing.1 Health care professionals and other frontline workers faced the challenge of their lifetimes fighting the virus and protecting patients and the public at great risk to themselves and their family members.

It is not an understatement to say that the pharmacy profession has been permanently changed because of COVID-19. The pandemic also proved that there has never been more of a need for the unique role that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy interns play in enhancing and protecting public health.

As 2020 comes to an end, there are promising treatment options for COVID-19, and the United Kingdom was set to receive its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, just 1 day after it was approved.2 Although the FDA tends to take more time with its approval process than European regulators do, many observers believe the agency will move quickly to make COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, and that may have happened by the time you read this.

Pharmacists are authorized to order and administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, as are techs and pharmacy interns, though both under the supervision of a pharmacist.3 Clearly, the pharmacy profession is poised to demonstrate its value even more in 2021.

No matter what obstacles and opportunities pharmacy professionals may encounter, Pharmacy Times® is committed to providing them with the resources that they need to continue delivering outstanding care in their communities.

Outside of COVID-19, an important role that pharmacists can play is that of heart health advocate. With heart disease the leading cause of death among both men and women in the United States according to the CDC,4 and given their accessibility, pharmacists are ideally positioned to help patients maintain their cardiovascular health.

To help them in this endeavor, this issue of Pharmacy Times® contains practical information on treating hypertension, supplements for heart health, using statins, and acute coronary syndrome.

As we close the book on another year of educating and empowering pharmacists and look ahead to 2021, we want to thank you for your support and for all that you do to improve patient health. From our family to yours, have a happy holiday season and a healthy and safe New Year!


REFERENCES

1. Coronavirus resource center. John Hopkins University & Medicine. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html.
2. Westcott B, Renton A, Wagner M, Macaya M. The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines. CNN. December 3, 2020. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://edition.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-12-03-20-intl/h_b5983c5514a3b029ba651eed055a19a9
3. Hippensteele A. HHS issues guidance on administration of vaccinations, COVID-19 tests by pharmacy technicians, interns. Pharmacy Times. October 22, 2020. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/hhs-issues-guidance-on-administration-of-vaccinations-covid-19-tests-by-pharmacy-technicians-interns
4. CDC. Heart disease facts. Updated September 8, 2020. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm