CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid coronavirus response updates

The country's top retail pharmacy chains have taken several steps they say will help ensure customers' don't lose access to needed prescriptions and other health products during the coronavirus pandemic.

CVS

  • MinuteClinic is no longer accepting walk-in patients. Patients must make appointments online and be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 outside the stores.

  • Caremark lowered the quantity of certain drugs it will give to patients to treat COVID-19 to limit stockpiling. The drugs are hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, a protease inhibitor and albuterol inhalers, all of which have been used as off-label treatments for COVID-19 but aren't FDA-approved treatments. Patients already taking the drugs for other purposes won't be affected.

  • Caremark is also extending previously approved prior authorizations for most drugs set to expire before June 30 since many people can't see their providers to renew prescriptions.

  • Pharmacies are letting members refill most maintenance prescriptions early and offering 90-day refills at no extra charge.

  • Aetna waived cost-sharing and copays for inpatient hospital admissions related to COVID-19.

  • A store opened its first COVID-19 testing site in Massachusetts, but CEO Larry Merlo told CNBC a lack of personal protective gear has slowed widespread rollout of drive-thru testing sites.

  • The company is hiring 50,000 full and part-time employees across the country to keep up with demand.

Walgreens

  • The company opened its first drive-thru testing site in the Chicago area, which will only be available for first responders and healthcare workers. After a while, the company said it will also allow citizens over 65 to be tested, but it did not specify when. Walgreens said it's working with the Trump administration, CDC and CMS to identify other Walgreens locations to open testing sites.

  • It expanded its partnership with Postmates to bring the delivery service to more than 7,000 locations

  • Pharmacies will allow customers to pick up nonprescription items such as cleaning supplies, groceries and medical supplies through the drive-thru at all stores across the country.

  • The company plans to hire more than 9,500 full, part-time and temporary workers across the country to keep up with demand. 

Rite Aid

  • Stores are piloting a COVID-19 testing site at a location in Philadelphia. It is testing seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is only open for first responders and healthcare workers. 

More articles on pharmacy:
How 5 hospital pharmacies have responded to the coronavirus pandemic
CARES Act doesn't do enough to expand pharmacist roles, ASHP says
FDA issues emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19

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