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COVID-19: Pharmacy News & Resources


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How to Obtain a CLIA Certificate of Waiver

For Point-of-Care Testing in Your Pharmacy

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

AHFS Database for Drug Trials & Shortages

Username: ahfs@ashp.org Password: covid-19

Keeping Your Pharmacy Sanitized

Coronavirus Newsfeed
and Pharmacy Regulations

Handpicked and Continuously Updated By Our Team

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 18, 2020 – The US Food and Drug Administration is warning health professionals about a potential interaction between the drug remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) or chloroquine (CQ), resulting in reduced effectiveness of the antiviral agent. The FDA simultaneously revoked the EUA for both HCQ and CQ in the light of new scientific evidence. Remdesivir continues to be evaluated for its use in the treatment of COVID-19. 

Source: Pharmacy Practice News

June 18, 2020 – The US Food and Drug Administration has revoked the emergency use authorization for the Chembio Diagnostic System antibody test for COVID-19. Data has shown that the test produces false results at a higher than expected rate, and that warning is not reflected in the labeling of the test. Due to emerging scientific evidence, the test’s benefits no longer outweigh its risks. 

Source: Pharmacy Practice News

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 4, 2020 – With the current changes taking place in the pharmacy industry, experts believe that certain changes could persist and reshape the specialty pharmacy industry in the long term. The CEO of the Drug Channels Institute, Adam Fein, addresses potential effects such as an increase in specialty scripts, shifts to Medicaid, more opportunities for smaller pharmacies, and the relaxation of refill/prior authorization requirements.  

Source: Pharmacy Practice News

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 19, 2020 – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has issued an executive order that will extend previous executive orders pertaining to health care providers and facilities until June 30. This is intended to facilitate the state’s reopening by continuing to allow these essential businesses to combat the presence of COVID-19 in their communities. The provisions include orders impacting health care licensing, extended prescription supplies, CE credits, pharmacy tech supervision, remote prescription processing, emergency medical services, out-of-state providers, and price gouging. 

Source: JD Supra

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 8, 2020 – The Food and Drug Administration has released new temporary guidelines for pharmacy compounders using non-standard personal protective equipment (PPE) during the public health emergency. The guidelines address the shortage of proper PPE and outline what steps should be taken to mitigate this by pharmacies performing sterile compounding. 

Source: Pharmacy Times

May 7, 2020 – Chris Bland, an infectious diseases specialist and clinical associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Georgia, breaks down the common questions surrounding the new COVID-19 drug, remdesivir. The narrative has been shifting on the drug’s effectiveness against COVID-19, so Bland clears up what you need to know about the drug moving forward. 

Source: Newswise

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 and DEA have temporarily updated some federal policies pertaining to pharmacy in order to address potential shortages of drugs and equipment. 6 policies are highlighted in regards to pharmacy compounding, controlled substances, and PPE. 

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

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 30, 2020 – Preliminary results of a study using the antiviral drug Remdesivir show promise in speeding up recovery time in COVID-19 patients. Patients recovered 31% faster on Remdesivir – spending less time in the hospital than patients not receiving the medication. The death rate also seems to be smaller in the Remdesivir group, but it is too soon to conclude this. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, this shows a promising proof of concept; proof that drugs are able to block this virus. 

Source: National Public Radio

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 27, 2020 – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores has issued a statement commending Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for allowing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests – aiding in the acceleration of testing across the nation. Gov. DeSantis has helped remove barriers to pharmacies and continues to work towards giving them the ability to effectively fight COVID-19.

Source: Bezinga

April 24, 2020 – A summary of the latest updates to CDC’s Guidance for Community Pharmacies. This covers the most recent guidance on wearing face coverings, avoiding paper prescriptions, limiting contact with customers, and reducing risk while providing COVID-19 testing. 

Source: Drug Topics

April 24, 2020 – Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an executive order to further extend provisions for pharmacies, including allowing a 60-day supply of emergency prescription refills. The order also requires insurance carriers to cover these longer prescription refills. The amended order now expires on May 19. 

Source: MLive Michigan Local News

April 23, 2020 – The FDA is currently allowing pharmacists to repackage propofol to meet the presentations requested by hospitals. Currently, propofol is on the FDA’s shortage list. This document contains the guidelines for repackaging and combining propofol products to supply to hospitals with a need for the drug but that otherwise could not obtain it. 

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

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 21, 2020 – Novo Nordisk, a healthcare leader in diabetes care, is offering a way to help individuals who are unable to obtain their insulin due to a COVID-related loss of health insurance coverage. These individuals can now enroll in their Diabetes Patient Assistance Program (PAP) and receive a 90-day supply of insulin for free. Patients must have a valid prescription for Novo Nordisk insulin and meet the eligibility requirements. 

Source: Novo Nordisk

April 21, 2020 – Some of the latest COVID-19 developments affecting pharmacists include the CARES Act and point of care testing. The Paycheck Protection Program has depleted the allocated funding, however, Congress is currently negotiating additional payments. All COVID-19 tests currently under emergency use authorization are CLIA-waived tests. The FDA still recommends collaborating with local government and laboratories to check on any additional requirements for specimen collection in a pharmacy, clinic, or mobile testing site. 

Source: Pharmacy Times

April 21, 2020 – In response to a direct letter from NCPA, the FDA has released guidance for pharmacists on compounding medications that are “essentially a copy” of an FDA-approved drug that may be in shortage. The FDA does not intend to take action against a 503A pharmacy that is compounding these drugs during this public health emergency. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 20, 2020 – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has implemented The Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act to provide individuals in urgent need with a one-time, 30-day supply of insulin for a $35 copay. Manufacturers must reimburse pharmacies for the insulin they dispense or send replacement insulin at no cost. The full act contains both emergency and long-term components and goes into effect on July 1. 

Source: Healio

April 20, 2020 – Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order to allow pharmacy students to join the fight against COVID-19. Students who have completed all required coursework can apply for a temporary license with the Professional Licensing Agency. In addition, health care providers who cannot meet their in-person continuing education (CE) requirements can now do so via distance learning. 

Source: The Pilot News

April 17, 2020 – The FDA is encouraging individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma. Convalescent plasma has the potential to shorten the duration of the virus or reduce symptoms. If a coronavirus patient has been without symptoms for two weeks, they are urged to donate their antibody-rich plasma.  

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

April 16, 2020 – The NACDS Public Opinion Dashboard shows compiled data on voter responses regarding matters of pharmacy regulation. It shows state-by-state breakdowns on what percent of voters agreed with giving pharmacies more capabilities and resources for the COVID-19 response. This is helping to show national support for empowering pharmacies so that new changes can be initiated. 

Source: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

April 15, 2020 – The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has released a national PSA that is being aired on cable networks across the US. The video is an uplifting message that thanks all pharmacy teams who continue to serve in the face of COVID-19. NACDS is calling on the pharmacy community to use the NACDS RxIMPACT website to share the national PSA across the United States though this weekend.

Source: Yahoo Finance

April 15, 2020 – The annual National Drug Take Back Day has been postponed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t safely dispose of your medications. The Nebraska Medication Education on Disposal Strategies (MEDS) is working with pharmacies to remind people that every day is take-back day. People in the community can still do their part to protect the public health by following the guidelines to dispose of meds at their local pharmacy.

Source: KTIV News 4

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

April 14, 2020 – OmniSYS is now providing pharmacies free access to their COVID-19 testing resource, the OmniSYS Training Center. It provides step-by-step guidance on how to properly administer coronavirus testing at your pharmacy including getting licensed, obtaining materials, training staff, and reporting samples. 

Source: Drug Topics

April 14, 2020 – The FDA has granted an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Rutgers’ COVID-19 test that uses a patient’s saliva instead of a nasal swab. This will decrease the amount of PPE and close contact needed to provide testing, as saliva samples can be collected individually by the patients themselves. Testing will become quicker and more scalable than the nasal swab collections. 

Source: BioSpace

April 14, 2020 – Parata Systems has created a relief fund for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy employees who are facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The fund is starting off with an initial commitment of $100,000 and is accepting donors now, as well as applications for recipients. 

Source: Yahoo Finance

April 14, 2020 – Pennsylvania has released additional waivers approved by the governor to support the State Board of Pharmacy. These include waivers related to delivery signatures, graduating pharmacy students, pharmacy interns and residents, point-of-care testing, alternate care sites, and dispensing limits. 

Source: Pennsylvania Department of State

April 14, 2020 – This opinion piece explores the ways that pharmacists are being underutilized as a health care professional and can easily step in to alleviate the pressures of the coronavirus response. It highlights community pharmacies as being easily accessible to patients through the sheer number of stores across the US. 

Source: MarketWatch

April 13, 2020 – The Ohio Pharmacists Association has partnered with UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio to launch a new initiative to expand access to care and relieve the pressure on health systems while improving patient outcomes. The program will utilize the strong relationships that local pharmacies have built in their communities along with their clinical expertise to take advantage of their potential as a role in a patient’s health care team. 

Source: Ohio Pharmacists Association

April 10, 2020 – The DEA is allowing pharmaceutical manufacturers to increase production quotas for controlled substance medications in high demand due to COVID-19. The aggregate production quota will increase by 15%. The increase will ensure the required amounts for treatment, research, and reserve stocks. The DEA is also increasing the amount of schedule III and IV controlled substances that can be imported into the United States. 

Source: Drug Enforcement Administration

April 10, 2020 – The Ohio Pharmacists Association reports the significant new policy changes made this week by state officials, many in response to the organization’s own requests. Read updates regarding COVID-19 testing authority, consult agreement expansion, and lowering barriers to Medicaid prescription drug access. 

Source: Ohio Pharmacists Association

April 10, 2020 – The DEA has released more detailed guidance on policies affecting health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic. This overview highlights statements regarding practicing across state lines, early refills, oral schedule II prescriptions, narcotic treatment programs, and drug manufacturing guidelines. 

Source: JD Supra

April 10, 2020 – Learn the key points on 5 of the most recent FDA coronavirus updates regarding current topics such as serological testing, blood donation guidelines, mask wearing, drug development, and emergency use authorization. 

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

April 9, 2020 – The FDA has approved the human clinical testing of an antiviral developed by Emory University to potentially treat COVID-19. The antiviral, EIDD-2801, can be taken orally to prevent the replication of SARS-CoV-2. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, LP has received sole licensure to carry on human testing. The goal is for the antiviral to also be developed for treatment for seasonal and pandemic flu outbreaks.

Source: Woodruff Health Sciences Center

April 9, 2020 – The US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has officially authorized licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients. Community pharmacies are highlighted as accessible and convenient points of contact to provide widespread testing capabilities, giving them a chance to play an even bigger role in the COVID-19 response. 

Source: US Department of Health & Human Services

April 8, 2020 – A new survey done by NCPA shows that millions of Americans solely rely on a local independent pharmacy as the only pharmacy available in their area. This highlights the pressing need for these community pharmacies to get the policy changes and equipment necessary to properly serve their communities. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 7, 2020 – The National Pharmacy Technician Association surveyed almost 1,400 pharmacy technicians to compare opinions and workplace environments during the pandemic. Pharmacy technicians in independent pharmacies felt significantly safer than their counterparts working in large chains. Independent pharmacy technicians also felt that they were effectively and safely serving their patients, while chain technicians did not. 

Source: News-Line for Pharmacists

April 6, 2020 – The Supreme Court has postponed oral arguments scheduled for April 20-22 and April 27-29 to follow national health guidelines. One of these is PBM case Rutledge v. PCMA. The argument has yet to be rescheduled.

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 6, 2020 – NCPA’s latest webinar featured pharmacy owner Amina Abubakar and her RxClinic pharmacy team as they expanded on COVID-19 testing for community pharmacies. Learn about the different tests available in the market, how to interpret results, and implementation techniques. Listen to the recorded webinar and follow the slides to learn the opportunities available for your pharmacy. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 6, 2020 – In response to urgent pharmacy staffing needs across the country, the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy is allowing 52 final-year pharmacy doctorate students to get their license early and provide help to community pharmacies, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. The eligible students have fulfilled all curriculum requirements, and there are plans for other Rutgers schools to follow in these steps.

Source: The Daily Targum

April 6, 2020 – The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is partially suspending HIPAA enforcement in order to open the flow of COVID-19 information. The statement did not offer specific examples, rather that the office would use its discretion as to which violations were in “good faith.” The main purposes of this suspension are to prevent the spread of the virus and to provide timely information to the health care system. 

Source: Healthcare Dive

April 3, 2020 – NCPA recently hosted a webinar led by accounting experts Ollin and Scotty Sykes of Sykes and Co., who thoroughly explained all the provisions of the CARES Act that support small businesses. Learn how to improve your cash flow and see what new resources are available for financial assistance. 

Source: National Community Pharmacists Association

April 2, 2020 – Melissa Francis of Fox Business interviews NCPA CEO Doug Hoey about the state of independent pharmacies during the COVID-19 crisis. Hoey describes how independent pharmacies compete with chains through delivery and compounding, as well as patient care. He also warns of the U.S. dependence of active pharmaceutical ingredients coming from other countries, such as China. 

Source: Fox Business

April 2, 2020 – The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has developed a new program to help facilitate temporary authorization for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to practice in another state. The program – NABP Passport – conducts license verifications at no cost to the applicant or to the board of pharmacy. There are currently over 15 states that utilize the program, and the number continues to grow. 

Source: GlobeNewswire

April 1, 2020 – RxSafe has released its new product, ViralGuardRx™, a protective barrier that allows pharmacists to safely transfer prescriptions at the point-of-sale. The shield is copper-lined and blocks free airflow, reducing the risk of disease transmission between the pharmacist and the patient. 

Source: Patch