Federal Guidance Allowing Pharmacists to Provide COVID-19 Testing Applauded by Health Care Leaders

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar released a statement on how the authorization for pharmacists will mean easier access for patients who need COVID-19 testing.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued new guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tests that the FDA has authorized.1

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar released a statement on how the authorization for pharmacists will mean easier access for patients who need COVID-19 testing.

“Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information,” Azar said in the statement. “The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America's heroic healthcare workers."1

In addition, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, MD, said this authorization will help expand testing capabilities during the pandemic.

“The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a health care professional for many Americans,” Giroir said in the statement. “This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our health care workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”1

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) also applauded the Trump Administration’s decision to approve the act, as the organization issued an open letter to the White House in March regarding the urgency of helping pharmacies and pharmacists meet the needs of those affected by COVID-19 and other illnesses.2

“The Trump Administration, Secretary Azar and Assistant Secretary Giroir have made an important move to empower pharmacists to provide critical patient care in an expanded way in the nation’s response to COVID-19,” NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, said in a statement. “Pharmacies and pharmacists already have demonstrated they are here to lead, and will continue to rise to respond to this nation’s most significant health crisis. We look forward to continuing to work with leaders at all levels of government to remove barriers to patient care so pharmacists and pharmacies will be fully empowered and prepared to serve the nation.”2

Pharmacists for Healthier Lives, a coalition of national and local pharmacy organizations, also praised the move to allow licensed pharmacists to provide COVID-19 tests during the pandemic.

"Allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 testing means much greater testing in metropolitan, suburban and rural settings, providing vital information about the spread of the disease, helping to flatten the curve and increasing patient safety," the organization said in a press release. "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.”

REFERENCES

  • HHS statements on authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests. HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/04/08/hhs-statements-on-authorizing-licensed-pharmacists-to-order-and-administer-covid-19-tests.html. Published April 8, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2020.
  • NACDS applauds Trump Administration decision to approve pharmacist-provided COVID-19 testing. NACDS. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-applauds-trump-administration-decision-to-approve-pharmacist-provided-covid-19-testing/. Published April 8, 2020. Accessed April 9, 2020.