NACDS Urges Congress to Recognize Critical Role of Pharmacies in Overcoming the Pandemic

In a recent congressional hearing, the NACDS submitted a statement underscoring the critical role of pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy teams in the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts taking place across the country.

In a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) submitted a statement underscoring the critical role of pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy teams in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response and recovery efforts taking place across the country.

During the congressional hearing, called “Road to Recovery: Ramping up COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing and Medical Supply Chain,” NACDS noted the importance of expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations for patients, as well as the need to continue to support other patient care services, such as screening, testing, and vaccinations, beyond those addressing COVID-19 alone.

NACDS also noted that retail pharmacies across the country are ready and able to meet the demand of 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in 30 days, assuming the supply of vaccines allows for the endeavor.

“Pharmacies are committed to helping the nation at this critical point, gearing up to expeditiously expand equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations as they become available and support the nation to eventually recover from the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever,” NACDS president and CEO Steven C. Anderson wrote in the statement presented to Congress, according to a press release. “[O]ne of the critical rate-limiting steps to the nation’s recovery is the availability of supply of COVID-19 vaccines—not vaccinators. Pharmacies stand ready to meet the challenge and are prepared to do more to ensure that Americans are vaccinated proficiently, safely, and equitably.”

There is also an established history of trust between pharmacists and their teams and patients with the greatest level of need, NACDS noted in the statement.

“Pharmacies, pharmacists, and pharmacy staff have played a large role in the success of public health campaigns. This history of trust cannot be overstated and should be leveraged significantly to support efforts to strengthen public confidence in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines,” NACDS wrote.

According to a 2020 poll commissioned by NACDS, 3 out of 4 adults reported they would trust pharmacists to administer COVID-19 vaccines, while approximately 1 out of 3 adults reported that they would be more likely to pursue COVID-19 vaccination if it was available at pharmacies.

In order to ensure a strong national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, NACDS explained there were 3 essential elements to consider on the road ahead.

First, it is essential to maintain the authorities that are established under the Public Readiness and Preparedness Act declaration, which expanded where patients are able to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and testing with the inclusion of local pharmacies. Second, it is crucial to make sure that pharmacies are able to continue to provide vaccination, testing, and other preventive care through clear reimbursement pathways.

Finally, it is critical to expand the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program to serve Medicare and Medicaid populations in order to allow patients who need pharmacy services to continue to have access to them.

REFERENCE

NACDS Recommends Congressional Action Regarding Pharmacies’ Critical Role in Overcoming Pandemic. Arlington, VA: National Association of Chain Drug Stores; February 3, 2021. https://www.nacds.org/news/nacds-recommends-congressional-action-regarding-pharmacies-critical-role-in-overcoming-pandemic/. Accessed February 5, 2021.