What the Launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program Means for COVID-19 Vaccinations at Community Pharmacies


Pharmacy Times® interviewed Kurt Proctor, PhD, RPh, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the NCPA, on the Biden administration’s announcement of the launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination.

Pharmacy Times® interviewed Kurt Proctor, PhD, RPh, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacy Association, on the Biden administration’s announcement of the initial launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination.

Alana Hippensteele: So, Kurt, what is the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and what does its announcement mean for community pharmacies?

Kurt Proctor: Thanks, Alana, I'm glad to be with you today. The Federal Retail Program is about making it easier for everybody by allocating directly to these partners that are affiliated with the pharmacies in their group—whether that be the independents and their [pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs)] or the chains and their stores—to where they are, working with their pharmacies and placing orders for them, helping report data, helping coordinate activity with the states that they're involved with, and understanding what the priority populations are, etc. So, it's something we've been working on for a long time—back in the Trump administration—in terms of putting this federal program together. Now we're glad to see that it's being implemented here in the Biden administration.

Alana Hippensteele: Right. Since the program is a public-private partnership with both national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies, how were pharmacies able to get involved in this program and can other pharmacies become a part of it?

Kurt Proctor: Right, so all those entities have gone out to the pharmacies that they have relationships with, and many pharmacies chose to sign up with them. Some pharmacies are just working directly with their state, which is a completely good option for many pharmacies, and there's nothing wrong with that at all. But others who joined one of the networks of independent pharmacies, and I believe that those networks will be able to take more people in in the weeks and months ahead as well, if pharmacies so choose to do that. I think they're pretty well grounded in the pharmacies that they have, and they're ready to meet the challenges of getting this vaccine out and reaching the vulnerable populations that are being prioritized, especially at this point.

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