Pharma groups seek 4 policy changes to aid their coronavirus response

A dozen pharmacy groups, led by the American Pharmacists Association, issued a joint statement outlining four policy changes they say will allow pharmacists to "fully and effectively" support the U.S. COVID-19 response. 

The changes sought: 

  1. Allow pharmacists to order, collect specimens, conduct and interpret tests, and when appropriate, initiate treatment for infectious diseases, including COVID-19, flu and strep, and interpret and discuss those treatments with patients.

  2.  Allow pharmacists and pharmacy technicians with valid licenses to operate across state lines, including telehealth.

  3. Authorize pharmacists providing direct patient care to individual patients to conduct therapeutic interchange and substitution with appropriate physician notification when product shortages arise.

  4. Provide direct reimbursement for services delivered by pharmacists if within the scope of practice and covered for other healthcare providers. 

The groups said that allowing pharmacists to make therapeutic substitutions without consulting the prescribing physician would help ease coronavirus-related drug shortages. The groups made an exception for drugs within one of Medicare's six protected classes: anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antineoplastics, antipsychotics, antiretrovirals and immunosuppressants.

The groups also called for the government to "immediately include" the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, a bill that would include pharmacists on the list of recognized healthcare providers, in emergency legislation to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the full statement here


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