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COVID-19: Pharmacy News & Resources


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Are You Ready for a COVID-19 Flu Season?

Prepare Your Pharmacy to Offer Immunizations + POC Testing

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES:

PioneerRx Tools + Best Practices

If your pharmacy offers curbside pickup or a drive-thru option, PioneerRx has some best practices that, if followed, should make your patient experience better.

Having the proper signs to guide your customers is important for maintaining a steady flow of curbside pickups. Visit our Curbside Signage page to order your own signs – customized with your pharmacy’s phone number.

Use our delivery app to plan routes and process payments as more customers are staying home. Data is synced directly to your system.

Use the drive-thru app to process transactions in your drive-thru or for curbside pickup.

HIPAA secure two-way messaging allows you to be in constant contact with your patients when they need you without them coming into the pharmacy.

Text your patients and allow them to respond back– all from your PioneerRx pharmacy system. You can stay connected with your patients while reducing disruptions from constant phone calls.

Shareable Resources

General COVID-19 Information

Best Practices & Resources for Pharmacists

Keeping Your Pharmacy Sanitized

Coronavirus Newsfeed
and Pharmacy Regulations

Handpicked and Continuously Updated By Our Team

November 20, 2020 – Pfizer and BioNTech applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA for their COVID-19 vaccine. The review process could take several weeks, and the first meeting has been tentatively scheduled for early December. In the final data analysis, the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

Source: CNBC

November 19, 2020 – The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for baricitinib to be used in conjunction with remdesivir for patients over the age of two and requiring supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation. It is not approved as a stand-alone treatment. Baricitinib blocks enzymes that lead to inflammation. 

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

November 19, 2020 – As part of the “Vaccinate with Confidence” strategy, the Immunization Action Coalition is hosting a one hour webinar on COVID-19 Vaccination Implementation. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, and Dr. Amanda Cohen, chief medical officer of NCIRD and COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force. Tune in for their presentation and a Q&A session with CDC subject matter experts on Thursday, December 3rd at 1 PM Eastern Time.

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

November 18, 2020 – After Phase 3 trial, Moderna announced that its vaccine could be up to 94.5% effective. This estimate may fluctuate as more participants join the trial. The most promising aspect of the Moderna vaccine is that it does not need to be stored at temperatures as cold as the Pfizer vaccine. Two more vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are projected to have data available by early 2021.

Source: ABC News

November 18, 2020 – There are currently 5 avenues for independent pharmacies to provide COVID-19 vaccines once available. These are through membership with CPESN USA, AmerisourceBergen (Good Neighbor Pharmacy / Elevate), LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe (Cardinal Health’s PSAOs), HealthMart, or your state health department. Long Term Care facilities may access vaccines through their state health department, GeriMed, Innovatix, and MHA. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

November 16, 2020 – CPESN has been named an official Federal Pharmacy Partner (Network Administrator) for the CDC’s vaccination program. Through this partnership, facilitated through the help of NCPA, CPESN will be a key player in facilitating the widespread distribution of an approved vaccine, especially in traditionally underserved areas of the country. Pharmacies that are part of the participating networks will have already access to the vaccine, and pharmacies that are not in the program will still be encouraged to coordinate with their health department to ensure they can be a provider as well. 

Source: Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN)

November 11, 2020 – A vaccine from Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech is proving to be more than 90% effective at protecting against the coronavirus. These results are extremely promising and beyond our expectations – however – there are 5 big questions that remain to be answered: Will the results hold up during peer review? How long will the effectiveness last? Will it be effective in all populations? When can enough of the vaccine be safely manufactured? Can it be kept cold enough during shipment to the patient? 

Source: Forbes

November 9, 2020 – Drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen has reached an agreement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to serve as a network administrator and place orders for COVID-19 vaccines to go to its affiliated independent pharmacies. This partnership will only take effect once there is an adequate supply of the vaccine in order to enable widespread coverage and increased vaccine access for local pharmacies.

Source: Odessa American

November 5, 2020 – The federal government has pushed the widespread use of rapid antigen Covid testing in asymptomatic people, in order to try and mitigate the continued spread of COVID-19. The rapid tests, however, are only authorized for use in people showing symptoms. In a random screening of individuals who did not feel sick, the rapid test only detected 32% of the positive cases that were shown by the PCR test. Experts are encouraging proper interpretation of results and administration of both PCR and rapid tests. 

Source: The New York Times

October 28, 2020 – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced updated guidance authorizing qualified pharmacy technicians and interns to administer childhood vaccines, COVID-19 tests, and COVID-19 vaccines while also being protected from liability suits under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. Click the link to read NCPA’s summary of key points from the announcement.

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

October 22, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has adjusted their messaging for what is defined as “close contact” during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, it was defined as at least 15 minutes of sustained contact less than 6 feet apart. The updated messaging says the 15 minutes of contact within 6 feet can add up over a 24 hour period. This is because health officials have found that multiple short exposures have led to transmission of the virus, not just prolonged exposure in one period of time. 

Source: National Public Radio

October 14, 2020 – The US has reported its first official case of COVID-19 reinfection. A 25-year-old healthcare worker originally tested positive in April for the coronavirus and had mild symptoms, then recovered and tested negative in May. Then by the end of May, he was hospitalized with more severe symptoms and again tested positive for the virus. This emphasizes the importance of continued social distancing even after already recovering from the virus. Immunity from COVID-19 is still being researched and it is unclear how long the antibodies will last in each individual person. 

Source: National Public Radio

October 13, 2020 – Researchers in Japan have discovered that SARS-CoV-2 remains viable on human skin for about 9 hours – in contrast to the influenza A virus which lasts only 2 hours. Initially, researchers only studied the virus on surfaces such as copper, plastic, and cardboard. The Japanese researchers were able to use skin grafts obtained from autopsies to simulate the virus’ effect on human skin. The new study emphasizes the continued importance of proper hand washing habits and the effectiveness of hand hygiene in deactivating the virus. 

Source: Live Science

October 8, 2020 – The FDA has issued guidance on emergency use authorization (EAU) for COVID-19 vaccines. The guidance requires the following factors to be met: the product must prevent, diagnose, or treat serious or life-threatening conditions caused by SARS-CoV-2; the benefits of the product outweigh the risks; and there is no approved alternative to the product. The guidance details recommendations for requesting an EAU and what data is required to make a formal request.

Source: US Food & Drug Administration

September 30, 2020 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration plans to release stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. These guidelines will require more specific criteria for clinical trial data and advise that it be reviewed by independent experts. The move is an attempt to maintain credibility and transparency from the FDA.

Source: New York Times

September 25, 2020 – The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first approved antibody test for COVID-19. This approval is for the Assure COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test Device collected through fingerstick blood samples as a point-of-care test in settings such as a pharmacy. Pharmacies must be a CLIA-waived lab setting to offer the test. Visit our How to Obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver  page to get your pharmacy certified. 

Source: US Food & Drug Administration

September 21, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has abruptly recanted the update made on its website regarding COVID-19 guidance. On Friday, the guidance was changed to reflect that the virus is now officially thought to spread throughout the air in lingering airborne particles – instead of just within close contact of 6 ft. The CDC quickly removed this change today and said it was made in “error”. A CDC spokesperson said the changes were still under review and accidentally posted before being finalized. 

Source: CNN

September 16, 2020 – NCPA CEO Doug Hoey has been asked by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to join Operation Warp Speed. Hoey is representing community pharmacies and their ability to administer COVID-19 vaccinations once they become available. Hoey states, “Community pharmacies are located where the people are, including rural and medically underserved areas.”

Source: Pharmacy Times

September 16, 2020 – The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended access to COVID-19 vaccinations by allowing pharmacists to order and administer them as part of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP). Currently, there is no FDA-authorized vaccination. However, this decision recognizes the value of pharmacists in the U.S. health system and gives community pharmacies time to prepare for this new season.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

September 9, 2020 – Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is putting its COVID-19 vaccine trial on pause for a safety review. In a large-scale volunteer trial, one patient has shown symptoms of an explained illness that is currently being investigated before moving forward with the trial. It is unclear whether the illness is directly related to the vaccine, and the patient is expected to be able to recover.

Source: National Public Radio

August 31, 2020 – The FDA approved the Abbott BinaxNOW antigen test, which uses a nasal swab sample and produces test results in 15 minutes. NCPA is ensuring community pharmacy access to administer these point-of-care tests. To perform this test, your pharmacy first must obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver.

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

August 27, 2020 – FDA Commissioner Hahn is under fire for his statements on the unpublished study that influenced the recent emergency use authorization (EUA) for plasma in treating COVID-19. While the study did show a decrease in mortality rates, Hahn made a definitive statement that the treatment would save 35 out of every 100 people who got the treatment. This figure was actually just a relative reduction in the trials done, while the “absolute” rate was a much smaller 3 to 5 % decrease. Hahn has said “The criticism is entirely justified.”

Source: National Public Radio

August 24, 2020 – The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EAU) for investigational convalescent plasma to be used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Current evidence suggests that convalescent plasma shortens the duration of illness and lessons the severity of symptoms in patients. There is a 37% lower mortality rate in patients treated with higher concentrations of convalescent plasma. 

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

August 18, 2020 – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. In order to expand access to lifesaving vaccines for children as they return to school and daycare, pharmacists and supervised pharmacy interns will be able to order and administer vaccines to children aged 3-18 years old. The HHS has provided a list of requirements that pharmacies must follow in order to properly be able to administer these vaccines. 

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

August 17, 2020 – A quick, affordable, less-invasive new COVID-19 test has been granted FDA emergency use authorization (EUA). The saliva-based test was developed by researchers at the Yale School of Public Health and is being further validated in its use for asymptomatic individuals. This is a step forward in making COVID testing more widely accessible and easier to conduct. 

Source: Yale News

August 13, 2020 – A new study by Stanford University School of Medicine found a heavy connection between vaping and coronavirus cases in young people. Of participants aged 13 – 24, individuals who had ever e-cigarettes were 5 times more likely to have COVID-19. Regular users were 6.8 times more likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus. It is thought that lung damage caused by smoking could more easily allow the virus to attach to the lung. 

Source: Yahoo! News

August 13, 2020 – On Tuesday, Russia approved the world’s 1st COVID-19 vaccine. Despite not yet finishing its Phase 3 trial – which tests the vaccine in tens of thousands of people – it has already been fast-tracked for administration in doctors as early as this month. The hasty approval of the vaccine has caused concern, with scientists saying it is too early to know whether the vaccine is truly effective and whether any developed immunity would last. 

Source: Associated Press

August 5, 2020 – Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock, AR is a PioneerRx pharmacy that has administered over 1,000 COVID-19 tests in just the last few weeks. Owner Anne Pace participated in a live Q&A webinar on Wednesday, August 12 to share how she and her team have developed such a successful program. Click the link to watch the full video recording of the webinar. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

August 5, 2020 – Steven Anderson, President and CEO of NACDS, issued a statement reiterating the role of pharmacies in effectively deploying a COVID-19 vaccine. Several facts were noted on the sheer volume and distribution of pharmacies across the country and their unique role in administering vaccines. Several organizations are pushing to spread awareness in order to be prepared before a vaccine is officially approved. 

Source: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

August 4, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have announced a new opportunity for provider reimbursement. Providers, including pharmacists, who counsel patients at the time of their COVID-19 testing and prepare them for self-isolation will be reimbursed for these services. Proper self-isolation and mask use helps to drastically reduce the transmission of the virus, and this can be facilitated by the guidance of healthcare professionals.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

August 3, 2020 – New Hampshire Gov. Sununu has signed a law authorizing pharmacists and pharmacy interns (under supervision) to administer COVID-19 vaccines. This has been passed in preparation for efficiently distributing a vaccine once it is available. Now, the current states that have authorized this are New Hampshire, New York, and Minnesota. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

July 31, 2020 – The initial prohibition of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment was announced in response to the developing research noting its ineffectiveness and adverse side effects. However, Governor Mike DeWine spoke out saying that the drug’s use is between a patient and their doctor, and that it is not their position to limit its use. The board has rolled back the rule and will be reexamining the issue with the state medical board’s input.  

Source: CBS Pittsburgh

July 30, 2020 –  The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has prohibited the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 in the state of Ohio. Pharmacies will be banned from dispensing the drug for this purpose, in light of a growing body of research by the FDA and other institutions. Serious adverse effects have been detected, including heart complications.

Source: Cleveland 19 News

July 30, 2020 – Russia is planning to pave the way to the world’s first official approval of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Gamaleya Institute hopes to register the vaccine by August 10-12, with production beginning in September. The vaccine’s developers are ensuring it is safe and effective, however data has yet to be published on the trials. Gamaleya is set to begin Phase 3 of the trials next week. 

Source: Bloomberg

July 27, 2020 – After scrutiny over his coronavirus response, President Trump has begun pushing a campaign promise to lower drug prices. He has signed 4 executive orders related to drug price setting, drug importation, drug rebates, and insulin prices. These orders are unlikely to have an effect before the election, but the President is continuing to talk with drug company executives to discuss ideas for lowered costs. 

Source: WKTV News NY

July 20, 2020 – The FDA issued an emergency use authorization to Quest Diagnostics to allow testing pooled COVID-19 samples. This testing strategy allows up to 4 samples to be tested at once. If the collective test returns positive, the samples can then be processed individually. This sort of testing strategy is ideal for testing in areas where a high negative rate is expected.

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

July 17, 2020 – Pharmacists working in a community setting are now welcome to enroll with Alaska Medicaid as a licensed provider. Alaska HHS is hosting enrollment training, which includes training on billing for non-dispensing activities such as COVID-19 testing. Alaskan pharmacists, read more to view training session dates. 

Source: Alaska Department of Health & Social Services

July 15, 2020 – The COVID-19 vaccine currently being tested by Moderna is producing desired, immune-boosting results among the first set of human subjects who were first injected in March. The volunteers developed neutralizing antibody levels comparable to patients who survived COVID-19. The final phase of human testing will consist of a 30,000-person study from various age, racial, and health groups. This phase is on track to begin by the end of July. 

Source: CBS News

July 14, 2020 – Financial strains, decrease in routine medical care, and mental health issues are all factors contributing to medication non-adherence during the pandemic. As the most accessible healthcare provider, pharmacists are both a source of information and medication experts. Ways that you can support your patients during the pandemic include: talking to patients about obtaining insurance while unemployed, provide immunizations, work to improve affordability of a patient’s medication regimen, and many more. Continue reading for a full list of support options. 

Source: Pharmacy Times

July 13, 2020 – The EPA has just approved Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist as being effective against COVID-19. Formerly, disinfectant products likely to kill coronaviruses were recommended for cleaning. These two Lysol products have been tested and proven to kill SARS-CoV-2 specifically. 

Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

July 8, 2020 – A team of Stanford researchers is using the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to try and identify any existing drugs that are a potential “fit” for combating COVID-19. They are using AI to scan thousands of research papers and drug databases to find an already FDA-approved drug whose protein structure matches the sequence needed to inhibit the virus SARS-Cov-2. This process is also useful in identifying treatments for rare diseases that don’t have the funding to perform the necessary physical testing – so AI can step in instead.  

Source: Forbes

July 7, 2020 – An open letter signed by 239 scientific researchers is urging the World Health Organization to recognize the role of aerosols in the spread of COVID-19. Currently, the spread of the virus is known to be from close contact respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces, but aerosols – tiny particles floating in the air – are a trickier method. Unlike droplets which are heavy and fall to the ground after a person coughs or sneezes, aerosols can stay suspended in the air and float around a room. This technically makes them harder to avoid and contain, but more research needs to be done to know the exact extent of risk. 

Source: National Public Radio

July 6, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has further defined its list of factors that affect an individual’s risk of contracting COVID-19. While all people are susceptible, it is important for those at higher risk to be aware and make more informed decisions. The updated list of conditions now includes chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, organ transplant recipients, obesity, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and Type 2 diabetes. 

Source: American Pharmacists Association

July 1, 2020 – The FDA published “Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19” which outlines requirements for evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines. The considerations include requirements for chemistry, manufacturing and control, nonclinical and clinical data through development and licensure, and for post-licensure safety evaluation. The FDA is also encouraging research groups to contain diverse populations including ethnic minorities, elderly individuals, pregnant women, and individuals with comorbidities. The newly developed vaccine must prove prevention or a decrease in severity in at least 50% of vaccinated subjects. 

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

July 1, 2020 – The CDC has recently updated the list of people who are most at risk of severe illness. Rather than defining the risk group as an older adult age 65+, the CDC has broadened the threshold for age and warns that risk for severe illness increases as an individual ages. Underlying conditions that increase a person’s risk for severe illness now include: chronic kidney disease, COPD, obesity, immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

July 1, 2020 – This open forum webinar will help pharmacists navigate the changing COVID-19 landscape and highlight breaking information updates. This will include an interactive discussion on what techniques are working and what resources are available to help pharmacists during this time. The live link is intended for those who will participate in the discussion, but a recorded version will be posted online afterwards as well. Click the link to register for this webinar on Thursday July 9, 2020 from 12:00-1:00 CDT.  

Source: American Pharmacists Association

June 24, 2020 – Pharmacists in Ohio have recently gained legal provider status, and this has opened up opportunities for expanding into an elevated role in patient care. The Ohio Pharmacists Association has joined Buckeye Health Plan to announce a partnership in  improving health outcomes for patients living with chronic diseases. This collaborative care model will provide enhanced support to patients, and participating pharmacists are being reimbursed for the value they add to this program. 

Source: Ohio Pharmacists Association

June 23, 2020 – Vitamin C and Zinc are among the OTC products being evaluated in their use to help treat COVID-19. Studies have looked into their immune-enhancing properties and possible antiviral effects, and while there is not enough data to establish a firm recommendation, Vitamin C and Zinc have shown promise as favorable choices for adjunctive therapies.

Source: Pharmacy Times

June 23, 2020 – The FDA is warning consumers that hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem all potentially contain methanol – a toxic substance when absorbed through the skin or ingested. Hand sanitizer should contain ethanol, but the Eskbiochem products listed were tested by the FDA to contain methanol instead. The FDA is advising consumers to immediately stop use and seek medical attention if they have already been exposed to these products. 

Source: US Food and Drug Administration

June 22, 2020 – A new study by West Health and Gallup shows that almost 90% of Americans want the price of COVID-19 treatment drugs to be regulated by the federal government. This survey was part of an ongoing research project on the rising cost of healthcare in the US. A majority of adults were concerned that Big Pharma would raise the price of a coronavirus drug due to its high demand during the pandemic. Policymakers will need to get involved to ensure that access to a treatment will be widely available to the entire population.  

Source: Pharmacy Times

June 19, 2020 – New legislation was just passed in New York in anticipation of a vaccine being approved for use against COVID-19. Signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the legislation has added COVID-19 to the list of vaccines that pharmacists can provide. This early preparation is essential in saving time when a vaccine becomes officially available, and pharmacists will be able to help amp up widespread immunization. 

Source: Drug Topics

June 19, 2020 – An anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone, is being hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ for treatment of serious cases of COVID-19. The World Health Organization identified the promising clinical data as “very significant”, but also warned that further research needs to be done before a conclusion can be reached. The early studies show that the drug reduced death rates by around a third in severely ill patients, but this partial data requires further investigation until an official statement can be made.

Source: CNBC

June 16, 2020 – Lawmakers in Ohio have been fighting to get pharmacies paid for the critical service they provide in expanding access to coronavirus testing. A breaking update has now been announced that the Ohio Department of Medicaid has plans to pay pharmacists to conduct COVID-19 testing. They also discussed their intent to authorize provider ID numbers for pharmacists in January 2021.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch

June 16, 2020 – The FDA has released a letter officially revoking the EUA for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to be used as treatment for patients with COVID-19. This decision was based on new information from clinical trial data results that suggests the potential benefits of the drugs actually do not outweigh the potential risks and they are no longer considered an effective treatment. 

Source: US Food and Drug Administration

June 12, 2020 – The NACDS is communicating with state governors and executive teams to recommend preparations for leveraging pharmacies in the distribution of COVID-19 treatment and vaccinations. Custom letters were written to each state depending on their unique situation and outlined specific actions that will be necessary to prepare for the upcoming flu season and the potential coinciding second wave of COVID-19. 

Source: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

June 11, 2020 – As the US faces a potential ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 cases in the fall, convincing people to get their flu shots will be critical for mitigating the strain on hospitals. A coinciding outbreak could threaten even more lives, so public health professionals will need to challenge the typical hesitations people have about getting their flu shot and educate their patients. With millions of Americans working from home, getting vaccinated at work may not be an option anymore. Experts hope that pharmacies will perform these vaccinations instead –  resulting in a surge in demand for flu shots. 

Source: The Hill

June 10, 2020 – The National Community Pharmacists Association has released results from a survey of independent pharmacies and their thoughts on how COVID-19 has changed the way they will operate in the long term. Common expectations include increased point-of-care testing, expanded scope of practice, increased use of telehealth, and the continuing of more diligent safety measures. 

Source: Drug Store News

June 8, 2020 – Researchers at Charité university hospital in Berlin have identified protein-based biomarkers in blood samples that can help predict how severe a person’s case of COVID-19 will develop. Knowing in advance if a person will need intensive care could help potentially save lives by having treatment options available faster. These protein markers could also help convey a more accurate picture of a patient’s current health status, because COVID-19 does not always present with the same severity of visible symptoms despite how sick a patient may actually be. 

Source: Fierce Biotech

June 5, 2020 – Even though the US Department of Health & Human Services authorized pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, it has been difficult for some pharmacists to navigate the legal barriers when it comes to state and federal regulations. Pharmacists need to make sure they are submitting all the required waivers and following all the requirements necessary to administer the tests. The logistics still need to be optimized and states are working towards simplifying the process, especially for community pharmacies who may not be able to work around the barriers as easily as large chains. 

Source: Drug Topics

June 3, 2020 – The FDA defines terminology used to describe therapies and their approvals. “FDA Approved” means that a particular drug has undergone necessary trials and that clinical data finds that drug to be safe and effective in treating for its intended use. Investigational or experimental drugs are those that are currently undergoing clinical trials for safety and effectiveness. “Expanded access” is a term for patients with immediately life-threatening conditions to use experimental drugs if no other therapies exist. Emergency Use Authorization is an emergency approval of a drug with limited information for use in emergency situations. “Off-Label” drugs are those which are approved by the FDA for one use but are prescribed for another use. 

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

June 3, 2020 – If your pharmacy has been vandalized or looted in recent riots, the NCPA Foundation’s Charity may be able to provide assistance. Please contact NCPAF@ncpa.org to report any damage to your pharmacy. If you would like to donate to the relief fund, please visit the GoFundMe page.

Source: National Community Pharmacy Association

June 2, 2020 – In preparation for an approved COVID-19 vaccine, the NACDS is urging legal preparation to allow pharmacies to be able to administer these vaccines. In a letter to the administration’s Operation Warp Speed, the NACDS details the results of a study that proves pharmacies could help vaccinate 25 million more Americans per week, and 80% of the nation could be immunized 7 weeks sooner than if pharmacies were not involved. 

Source: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

June 1, 2020 – The House has passed H.R. 7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. This would act as an extension to the PPP loan forgiveness period, prolonging the term to 24 weeks or until the end of the calendar year. It also lowers the amount of the loan that needs to be spent specifically on payroll – reducing it from 75% to only 60% of the funds. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

May 29, 2020 – The National Community Pharmacists Association is joining with hundreds of advocacy groups to protect businesses from COVID-19 litigation if they are operating in good faith. NCPA signed a joint letter urging Congress to pass the “Good Samaritan” legislation to protect front line workers from the threat of lawsuits that could prevent them from protecting the public and continuing operations. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

May 28, 2020 – A bill was just passed in the New York state senate allowing pharmacies to administer a vaccine for COVID-19. In anticipation of a proven COVID-19 vaccine, the bill would authorize licensed pharmacists to administer the vaccine 90 days after it is approved by the FDA. The accessibility of local pharmacies would help facilitate widespread vaccinations to all New Yorkers. 

Source: AM New York

May 27, 2020 – Steve Moore, PioneerRx pharmacy owner and president of the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, speaks about Gov. Cuomo’s plan for COVID-19 testing. 50 independent pharmacies in New York will soon be administering testing and the expected volume will be around 7,000 diagnostic tests per week. Moore comments that the program will be incredibly valuable and help bring testing to many residents who live in impoverished communities. 

Source: Bronx Times

May 26, 2020 – According to a survey conducted by the Alliance of Community Health Plans and AMCP, 72% of US consumers have dramatically changed their use of traditional healthcare services. The details of this survey reinforce the public’s trust in their local pharmacy as their healthcare provider, and overall feel more comfortable delaying the need to visit health care facilities in person. This points to why independent pharmacies need to be offering prescription delivery services. 

Source: Healthcare Finance News

May 26, 2020 – US pharmacies are preparing for a high demand of flu vaccinations that will come this October as flu season begins. As people fear a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, protection from the seasonal flu will be vital in order to curb hospitalizations from the coinciding coronavirus wave. Pharmacies and drugmakers are preparing to ensure they have enough doses available for the anticipated surge. 

Source: Reuters

May 26, 2020 – The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released 2 updated guidance documents related to compounding drugs in shortage due to the current pandemic. The drugs in questions include 15 drugs that are used for patients who require intubation and mechanical ventilation. The guidance includes instructions for pharmacy compounders on how to properly report adverse events.

Source: Regulatory Focus

May 22, 2020 – Pharmacy Times Continuing Education (PTCE) has released an online resource center for pharmacists to stay updated on COVID-19 through a multi-module CE webinar program that delivers credible and current information. These webinars cover the latest data on emerging therapies, patient management, and virology. Each webinar is accredited and approved to provide 0.75 contact hours (0.075 CEU). 

Source: Business Wire

May 22, 2020 – The FDA has released a list of COVID-19 antibody tests that are being removed from the official antibody test notification list. These tests are expected to longer be marketed or distributed as a result of voluntary withdrawal by the manufacturer, or due to a lack of emergency use authorization (EUA). The FDA is committed to keeping transparency and working with developers to give Americans access to trustworthy tests. 

Source: US Food and Drug Administration

May 22, 2020 – NCPA recently hosted a town hall that allowed pharmacists to share their own creative solutions for increasing front end sales while using curbside and drive-thru services. This article has collected some of the best pieces of advice that help front end sales even while patients are not coming into the store. Read through this summary of 9 of the most effective ways you can boost sales at your own pharmacy.

Source: PBA Health

May 20, 2020 – As a result of state and local requirements prohibiting pharmacist-ordered and administered tests for COVID-19, the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an advisory opinion. General Counsel Robert Charrow states that the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act preempts any contradicting state or local legislation. The PREP Act gives pharmacists the authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests; therefore, a state or local government can not prohibit those actions.

Source: Department of Health & Human Services

May 20, 2020 – This article in The Lancet journal of respiratory medicine explores the way social determinants of health can impact COVID-19 morbidity. Factors such as poverty, physical environment, and race or ethnicity are shown to have a considerable effect on COVID-19 outcomes. The article stresses the importance of considering these social determinants of health while conducting research, public health goals and policy implementation as we move forward during this pandemic.

Source: The Lancet

May 20, 2020 – As a silver lining to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are seeing strides in healthcare, such as the widespread adoption of telemedicine, increased disaster preparedness, and more authority given to non-physician healthcare providers. Once again, light is being shed on rising drug costs and the racial treatment disparity they cause. Experts speculate that the future will bring the end of assisted living facilities and change the structure of health insurance. 

Source: STAT

May 19, 2020 – Wyoming lawmakers have approved an amendment to a bill regarding potential lawsuits that may affect businesses responding to the public health emergency. The amendment would give immunity to health care providers who act in ‘good faith’ and follow instructions of their state, city, or town. The immunity does not apply to acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

Source: KGAB

May 18, 2020 – Biotechnology company Moderna has released results from an early-stage human trial of a COVID-19 vaccine. The ‘positive’ data showed that all 45 participants produced COVID-19 antibodies after receiving the vaccine, with one group showing levels that “significantly exceeded” levels shown in recovered patients. The Phase 2 of the trial is set to begin soon, with Phase 3 already expected to begin in July. 

Source: Forbes

May 18, 2020 – More than 240 patient and provider groups, pharmacies, trade associations, and healthcare companies signed a letter urging immediate action from Congress on the reform of DIR fees. The reform is essential to lower prescription drug prices and prevent pharmacy closures that could jeopardize health care access for Americans. The letter is supported by several influential pharmacy groups, including the NCPA, NACDS, NASP, APhA, ASCP, and NASPA.

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

May 15, 2020 – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has released a report titled “Pharmacies: A Vital Partner to Reopening America”. The report outlines steps that support the key objectives of maximizing COVID-19 testing operations, supporting contact tracing efforts, and accelerating access to future vaccines and treatments. It highlights community pharmacies as the critical centerpiece of the pandemic response and urges government actions that will make the key objectives possible. 

Source: Yahoo Finance

May 14, 2020 – The SBA has issued guidance extending safe harbor to those who received PPP loans of less than $2 million. However, this is limited to borrowers who have a justified “economic need” to support their ongoing business operations. Borrowers should clearly document why they need the funds, or consider returning the loan by the May 14th deadline

Source: Sykes & Company, P.A.

May 13, 2020 – Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that the state of California has conducted over 1 million diagnostic tests for COVID-19. In an effort to ramp up testing as the state begins to re-open, Gov. Newsom is allowing pharmacies to collect specimens for COVID-19 tests and order tests for consumers. This will allow Californians to have greater access to testing and feel more comfortable having the test administered by their local pharmacist.

Source: Office of Governor Gavin Newsom

May 12, 2020 – This guide is for medicare-enrolled pharmacies or pharmacies seeking to enroll temporarily as independent clinical diagnostic laboratories to help address the urgent need for COVID-19 testing. This covers how to submit your enrollment application and initiate temporary billing privileges.

Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

May 11, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has published an interim final rule with comment period, clarifying additional changes to healthcare regulations and policies in response to the public health emergency. Topics covered include expansion of COVID-19 testing and identification of pharmacists as “auxiliary personnel” providing services incident to a physicians’ service.

Source: The National Law Review

May 11, 2020 – Is your pharmacy ready to face uncertain financial times? Despite the high demand for certain pharmacy services, preparing your store for potential economic downturns will better equip you to keep your pharmacy running. Follow these steps to build your safety net, including keeping a lean inventory, evaluating expenses, focusing on cash flow, and building a contingency fund. 

Source: PBA Health

May 8, 2020 – A new COVID-19 test has been greenlighted by the FDA to deliver results within an hour. The test uses CRISPR technology to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in a patient’s genetic material using a molecule that latches onto the virus and “glows” – indicating a positive finding of COVID-19. The test is highly accurate, easily scalable, and able to quickly adapt if the virus mutates or forms new strains. 

Source: Forbes

May 7, 2020 – Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, outlines how community pharmacies are a critical safety net for their patients in this time of crisis. He addresses the administrative restrictions that need to be eliminated in order to allow these pharmacies to continue to be there for their communities.

Source: Drug Store News

May 6, 2020 – The Ohio Senate unanimously passed SB 303 to expand laws that allow physicians to collaborate with pharmacists in order to manage drug therapy for patients suffering from chronic diseases. These patients are at a higher risk for severe disease from COVID-19, and the new legislation aims to help minimize the severity of the continued threat on the population.

Source: Ohio Pharmacists Association

May 6, 2020 – HHS will begin issuing reimbursements for pharmacies testing and treating uninsured COVID-19 patients. The process includes enrolling as a participant, ensuring that a patient is uninsured, submitting patient information, and submitting claims. Reimbursements will be received through direct deposit. View the program for more details and eligibility requirements. 

Source: Health Resources and Services Administration

May 5, 2020 – The National Council for Prescription Drug Programs has released emergency preparedness information with specific guidance updated to aid pharmacists in expanding COVID-19 testing across the country. It covers a range of considerations, including different test options, the scope of pharmacist-provided services, testing certifications, payer considerations, and claim requests. 

Source: Yahoo Finance 

May 4, 2020 – The FDA has announced exclusions to certain requirements under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act in order to ensure adequate distribution of prescription drug products to combat COVID-19. The released guidance affects products that are used to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19. It also extends to products that are in high demand and have limited availability as a result of COVID-19. 

Source: Regulatory Focus

May 1, 2020 – The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for the antiviral drug Remdesivir after it has shown promising results in clinical trials as a treatment for COVID-19. Doctors will now be able to prescribe the drug for patients who are hospitalized with severe enough symptoms to qualify for the treatment. The drug has shown to decrease recovery time in severely ill patients and on average cut their discharge time to 11 days instead of 15 days. While it is not a cure, Remdesivir shows potential for helping patients with severe cases of the disease. 

Source: NBC News

May 1, 2020 – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed a ventilator specifically for COVID-19 patients, which has just received emergency use authorization from the FDA. The ventilator is made from fewer materials than traditional ventilators meant for extended use. VITAL, as it is called, can be assembled more quickly than current ventilator equipment.

Source: Tech Crunch

April 30, 2020 – New York Assemblyman John McDonald also happens to be a practicing pharmacist and president of Marra’s Pharmacy in Cohoes, NY. He was featured in his local news speaking on the logistics and opportunities that come with the state’s new executive order allowing pharmacies to test for COVID-19. 

Source: WNYT-TV

April 30, 2020 – NCPA has launched an initiative to remind Americans that their community pharmacists are someone they can rely on for expertise, advice, and personalized care – especially during this time. The campaign, known as “Your Neighbor”, will feature testimonials from patients of local neighborhood pharmacies. It aims to help strengthen the connection between pharmacies and their communities, and highlight the ways in which these pharmacies can offer an unmatched level of care and accessibility. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 30, 2020 – The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy has released recommended actions for a pharmacy if an employee is presumed or confirmed to be positive for COVID-19. These guidelines can help determine your own plan of action and be prepared to move forward if someone from your own staff becomes infected. 

Source: State of Massachusetts

April 29, 2020 – Wolters Kluwer released the MediRegs COVID-19 regulatory search, which provides access to state and federal regulations related to the coronavirus. Pharmacies administering tests for COVID-19 can find the necessary codes for billing. This resource is free to use. 

Source: PR Newswire

April 29, 2020 – As National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is postponed until the current health crisis recedes and emergency guidelines are lifted, the DEA is reminding Americans to be proactive about managing the medications in their homes. The Secure Your Meds campaign is promoting awareness of drug abuse and misuse, and encouraging people to securely hold on to prescriptions until they can properly dispose of them. 

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration

April 28, 2020 – The financial strain on independent pharmacies due to DIR fees is restricting their ability to help in the fight against COVID-19. A bipartisan letter was signed by 115 members of the US House of Representatives to ask for language permanently prohibiting pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration clawbacks by PBMs in future coronavirus relief packages. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 27, 2020 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added 6 new symptoms to the existing list for COVID-19. This expansion is aimed to help with accelerating testing, as many people may not realize they are exhibiting symptoms and can now qualify for COVID-19 testing. These new symptoms include: chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell.

Source: National Public Radio

April 27, 2020 – Richard Ost, owner of Philadelphia Pharmacy, dives into the hardships facing independent pharmacies – especially during this pandemic. Despite all the fees his store is hit by from PBMs, he still has to find a way to pay his employees and run his business. “I’m looking at it like the next six months are a charity operation,” Ost said. “Let’s give back to the community that has provided to us over the years.”

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

April 27, 2020 – The National Community Pharmacists Association has issued a statement on behalf of CEO Douglas Hoey commending New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order. Gov. Cuomo has enlisted independent pharmacies in the fight against COVID-19 by authorizing them to serve as testing collection centers. Independent pharmacies in New York are ready and eager to step up to their new role. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 23, 2020 – Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD, tells her story as the first reported COVID-19 patient in Yolo County, CA. While her health care team was supportive and attentive, she also reveals the uncoordinated system and uncertainty she faced through her experience. As a pharmacist, she is stepping up to help identify and solve the health system problems that COVID-19 patients are facing. 

Source: UCSF School of Pharmacy

April 14, 2020 – Take a quick look at everything we have released and are working on in response to COVID-19 in addition to this news page. Our President, Jeff Key, was quoted in this article by Computer Talk. Are you taking advantage of these new features and updates?

Source: PioneerRx + Computer Talk

April 14, 2020 – PioneerRx has officially announced the free addition of MedsOnCue – a virtual patient counseling integration – to every PioneerRx pharmacy system. The system automatically prints a QR code on a patient’s prescription that will take them to an online video guide that counsels them on their unique medications, all pulled from an online library of pre-made videos. 

Source: Yahoo Finance