'Test-to-treat' launches at several hundred pharmacies

The White House's "test-to-treat" initiative launched this week, allowing high-risk patients with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested at pharmacies and receive free antiviral pills on the spot, according to NPR.

HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response started distributing Merck's and Pfizer's antiviral pills to participating pharmacy-based clinics March 7. The agency said it also plans to launch a program for long-term care pharmacies to directly order antivirals for eligible residents at an increased risk of developing severe COVID-19. 

The program is launching at several hundred sites and will expand from there, Natalie Quillian, deputy coordinator for the White House COVID-19 response, told NPR. The initial roll-out will focus on large retail chains that offer on-site healthcare services, such as CVS Minute Clinics. 

Only pharmacies that have prescribing authorities on site can participate in the program, which limits the eligible pool, according to Ms. Quillian. 

"I don't think we'll get to the tens of thousands of locations – we're targeting those clinics and locations [like] pharmacy clinics, community health centers, Veterans Affairs clinics, where you have a prescribing authority that can actually prescribe the pills," she told NPR

The federal government will also launch a website this month where people can identify test-to-treat sites along with locations offering free masks, testing and vaccines, officials told the publication.  

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