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COVID-19 News and Resource Center

Micro Merchant System's latest updates on COVID-19

Pharmacy News

Pfizer Raises Expectations to Deliver a COVID-19 Vaccine by Fall

Jul 30, 2020 –

Pfizer is increasingly confident that its efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine will be successful. In a July 7 interview with TIME, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said he believes that Food and Drug Administration approval could come as soon as October.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla Raises Expectations That the Pharmaceutical Giant Can Deliver a COVID-19 Vaccine by Fall

[Read Article]

Source: TIME Magazine

Impact of COVID-19 On Community Pharmacy

Jul 29, 2020 –

With the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is not surprising that the impact seen in the pharmacy industry is going to be long-lasting. The initial waves of change that were felt in the beginning of 2020 are sure to be accompanied by a ripple effect when things begin to normalize. 

Source: Pharmacy Times

Pharmacy Testing Certification Covers COVID-19 and More

Jul 28, 2020 –

Medicare-approved accreditation organization The Compliance Team Inc. is now offering its newest Exemplary Provider Quality Award program, Pharmacy Testing Certification. [Read Article]

Source: HME Business News

Who Gets a Vaccine First? U.S. Considers Race in Coronavirus Plans

Jul 27, 2020 –

When a vaccine hits the market, it will be a key tool in putting an end to the pandemic. A federal committee is debating giving early access to groups that face a high risk. [Read Article]

Source: CPhA

President Trump Issues Executive Orders on Prescription Drug Pricing

Jul 26, 2020 –

On Friday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to pave the way for prescription drug importation from Canada and foreign countries to lower prices. The order directs the Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services to take certain actions to allow for safe use of drugs from Canada and other foreign countries. Legislation was adopted during last year’s legislative session here in Florida to allow for this practice.


The President also issued an order to reign in prescription drug middlemen practices of kickbacks through rebate programs. According to the Executive Order, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is charged with completing rulemaking to exclude the safe harbor provision under the anti-kickback statutes in the Social Security Act. This would cause things like rebates to be passed on to consumers at the point of sale.

Read More

Source: Florida Pharmacy Association (FPA)

The Pharmacist’s Role In COVID-19 Response Efforts

Jul 24, 2020 –

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, response efforts in the US continue to put pressure on health care organizations and resources. Direct patient care by pharmacists has been shown to potentially improve various patient outcomes during a public health emergency.

Read More

Source: California Pharmacy Association (CPhA)

Pharmacists Advocating for COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Status

Jul 23, 2020 –

Pharmacy Times spoke with Michael Hogue, PharmD, president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), about the current push in Congress for pharmacists to gain provider status in the push for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine.

Read More

Source: California Pharmacy Association (CPhA)

More Pharmacy Covid Testing Backed by White House, Republicans

Jul 22, 2020 –

Pharmacists pushing to get paid by Medicare for Covid-19 testing have gained key congressional allies but say they face opposition from the country’s top doctors lobby.

Read More

Source: California Pharmacy Association (CPhA)

What are COVID-19 Impact on Mail Order Pharmacy Market?

Jul 21, 2020 –

Mail order pharmacy is a pharmacy that works over the internet and delivers medications directly to residence by mail. Mail order service saves the time and trips to local retail pharmacy.

Read More

Source: California Pharmacy Association (CPhA)

California Governor Newsom orders major reopening rollback in attempt to control rampant COVID-19 spread

Jul 13, 2020 –

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered several sectors to once again shut down Monday amid an increasingly concerning coronavirus surge. 

Bars, both indoor and outdoor, will be forced to close down statewide. Restaurants are being told to cease indoor operations. Outdoor dining and takeout are still allowed.

All counties also have to close all indoor operations at wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos, museums and cardrooms.

In counties on the state's watch list, even more businesses are being required to close their doors. That includes gyms, hair salons, barbershops, other personal care services, indoor malls, offices in non-critical sectors, and places of worship.

Source: ABC 7

Testing for Coronavirus - How do I get started?

Jul 09, 2020 –

If you plan to offer COVID-19 testing in your store, you will need to have a CLIA Certificate of Waiver. For most, this is a very easy process. Fill out a form and send it to your state agency. The form is used for different types of labs, so we've made a short video to show you how a pharmacy would likely want to complete the form. Check with your state pharmacy association and department of health to see if there are additional requirements. 

Source: NCPA National Community Pharmacist Association

July 6, 2020 - Message from Governor Andrew Cuomo

Jul 06, 2020 –

1. The New York State Fair is canceled this year out of an abundance of caution. While disappointing for many reasons, the risk is too high to hold the Fair this summer. 

2. The State is planning for the fall school year. The New York State Department of Health, in consultation with the Reimagine Education Advisory Council and others, is finalizing guidance on the possible reopening of schools in September. Every school district throughout the State has been directed to develop reopening plans. At the moment, no decisions have been made on whether schools are reopening in the fall. We will follow the data, and make a decision on the data. 

3. Casinos and movie theaters remain closed. The State will continue to review the science and facts on their safe reopening. 

4. New York is looking at specific air conditioning requirements to prevent airborne spread of the virus. The State will make industry recommendations on the use of air filtration technology to potentially eliminate the spread of COVID-19 through air conditioning systems. As evidence emerges that COVID-19 spread is linked more to airborne transmission than to surface area transmissions, we are studying filters, their compatibility with existing air systems, the expense of modifications to air conditioning systems and other factors. 

5. The number of total hospitalizations continues to decline. Yesterday, total hospitalizations fell to 817, from 832 the previous day. Sadly, we lost 9 New Yorkers to the virus. 

6. Yesterday, the State conducted 54,328 tests. Only 518, or 0.95%, were positive. 

Source: ny.gov

Get paid when you offer COVID-19 testing services at your pharmacy

Jun 10, 2020 –

Be the Clinician You Were Trained to Be. Join the Digital Pharmacy Clinical Services Network. Get paid when you participate in our clinical programs, including the all new COVID-19 testing programs.

All new COVID-19 testing program now available. The Digital Pharmacy COVID testing network is now live. Set up your pharmacy and get paid for each test you administer.

Join the fastest growing clinical pharmacy network. Participate in paid clinical programs.

As a member of the AZOVA Digital Clinical Pharmacy Services Network, you will be included in many innovative digital health care programs. AZOVA brings payors, employers, brands, pharma and the consumer to the network and pays you for your services. Programs are launching across the country now. Sign up today!

Source: AZOVA Digital Clinical Services Network

NYS Coronavirus Update: Day 100 -- NYC Enters Phase 1 of Reopening -- It's Up To Us Campaign

Jun 08, 2020 –

Today is Day 100 since we had our first confirmed COVID case in New York State. And with New York City entering Phase 1 today, the entire state is in the reopening process. At the outset, no one knew how long it would take us to control the virus. But we did understand that it all depended on our actions. I'm so proud of how New Yorkers responded. Together we bent the curve. When things are tough, New Yorkers are tougher. Now we will move forward by region smartly. 

Here's what else you need to know:

1. NY is launching the "It's Up To Us, New York" campaign to remind New Yorkers to keep doing their part to fight Coronavirus. The campaign will appear across social media, on MTA buses and trains and on billboards across the state. I want to remind New Yorkers that masks are mandatory when riding public transportation systems and to follow all guidelines and protocols when riding, including maintaining social distancing to the extent possible, using hand sanitizer and observing decal guidance.

2. The MTA is taking unprecedented steps to keep riders and workers safe, including cleaning and disinfecting trains and buses daily. Since May 6th, the MTA has cleaned and disinfected 30,000 stations and cleaned and disinfected 500,000 subway cars. The MTA is also piloting the use of proven UV light technology to clean subway cars and crew facilities. The state is deploying over one million masks, and 25,000 gallons and 500,000 2-oz. bottles of sanitizer for the MTA for reopening.

3. New York City is now eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care. I previously announced that the state will allow elective outpatient treatments to resume in counties and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term.

4. We continue to focus efforts on reducing the infection rate of COVID-19 in New York City hotspot neighborhoods where residents have been most impacted by the virus. In partnership with Northwell Health and SOMOS Community Care, the state is opening 14 new temporary testing sites at churches located in communities that were hit hardest by COVID.

5. I encourage all New Yorkers who have participated in recent protests to get tested for COVID-19. There are now more than 240 testing sites in New York City, and the state is prioritizing 15 testing sites across the city for individuals who have participated in recent protests. More information on where and how to get tested is available at coronavirus.health.ny.gov. Getting a test is easy and it's the responsible thing to do.

Source: New York State - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Guidance for Pharmacies

Jun 02, 2020 –

Guidance for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in Community Pharmacies during the COVID-19 Response.

This guidance applies to all pharmacy staff to minimize their risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and reduce the risk for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a vital part of the healthcare system, pharmacies play an important role in providing medicines, therapeutics, vaccines, and critical health services to the public. Ensuring continuous function of pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic is important. During the pandemic, pharmacy staff can minimize their risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 and reduce the risk for patients by using the principles of infection prevention and control and social distancing.

Source: CDC

COVID-19 Educational Resources

Jun 01, 2020 –

ASHP is committed to supporting you in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have launched a new COVID-19 Resource Center microsite that is updated regularly along with free access to the evidence-based online resources below.


Source: ASHP

COVID-19 Update – Board of Pharmacy Specialties

May 29, 2020 –

Over the past several weeks, BPS and our examination delivery vendor, Prometric, have closely monitored the ever-changing events associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus in countries around the world.

BPS highly values your safety and security during these tumultuous times. We are extremely grateful for your contributions to patient care and remain committed to supporting your endeavor to become board certified. BPS is sensitive to and recognizes that issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic are changing daily, and BPS staff will continue to monitor this and provide updates to this webpage as new information becomes available.

Source: bps Board of Pharmacy Specialities

Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19-Related Treatments

May 28, 2020 –

The information contained in this evidence table is emerging and rapidly evolving because of ongoing research and is subject to the professional judgment and interpretation of the practitioner due to the uniqueness of each medical facility’s approach to the care of patients with COVID-19 and the needs of individual patients. ASHP provides this evidence table to help practitioners better understand current approaches related to treatment and care. ASHP has made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of the information presented.

However, any reader of this information is advised ASHP is not responsible for the continued currency of the information, for any errors or omissions, and/or for any consequences arising from the use of the information in the evidence table in any and all practice settings. Any reader of this document is cautioned that ASHP makes no representation, guarantee, or warranty, express or implied, as to the accuracy and appropriateness of the information contained in this evidence table and will bear no responsibility or liability for the results or consequences of its use.

Public access is currently available to AHFS Drug Information® (https://www.ahfscdi.com/login) with the username "ahfs@ashp.org" and password "covid-19." ASHP's patient medication information is available at http://www.safemedication.com/.

Source: ASHP

Reimbursement for COVID-19 Testing Bulletin

May 27, 2020 –

Pharmacies without a CLIA Certificate of Waiver (or one that is pending)*

  • COVID-19 assessment (including specimen collection) is HSA/FSA eligible**. Provide patients with summary of the service provided and price for their tax records. The American Clinical Laboratory Association has a list of member laboratories performing tests. Where possible, contract with the lab to be invoiced for tests performed and price the service accordingly; this arrangement avoids surprise bills from the lab.
  • -Pharmacies with a services contract with a Medicare-enrolled provider may perform COVID-19 assessment and/or specimen collection services for which the Medicare provider may submit a claim and subsequently pay the pharmacy according to the terms of the contract. This is known as “incident to” billing.
  • Pharmacies may offer a contract with an employer for COVID-19 assessment and specimen collection at the workplace, pharmacy, or other testing site.
  • Pharmacies may participate in a public-private partnerships or similar programs to collect specimens for testing.

Source: https://ncpa.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/COVID-19-testing-reimbursement-bulletin.pdf

NYS Coronavirus Update: New York's Contact Tracing Program -- Virtual Summer School -- Call for Blood Donations

May 22, 2020 –

Here's how it works: If you test positive, a COVID Contact Tracer will connect you with the support and resources you may need to quarantine, such as help getting medical care, child care, groceries or household supplies. The Tracer will work with you to identify anyone you've been in contact with over the past 14 days to trace and contain the spread of the virus. Those contacts will in turn hear from a Tracer via phone and text.

People who have come in close contact with someone who is positive are asked to stay home and limit their contact with others. By staying home during this time, IF you become sick yourself, you won't have infected other people. That's how we stop the spread. In the meantime, testing, medical and quarantine support will be arranged.

Privacy is a top priority of the Contact Tracing Program. We will not release your name to anyone. Your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as a private medical record. A contact tracer will never ask for your Social Security Number, bank or credit card numbers or any other financial information.

Note that if you get a call from a Tracer, your caller ID will in most cases say "NYS Contact Tracing." If you get a call, PLEASE answer the phone. Answering the phone will keep your loved ones and community safe and allows us to keep NY moving forward.

Here's what else you need to know tonight:

  1. Summer school will be conducted through distance learning this year to help reduce the risk of spreading Coronavirus. Meal programs and child care services for essential employees will continue. The state will make a determination on the fall semester and issue guidelines in June.
  2. An update on the COVID-related illness affecting children. We are currently investigating 157 reported cases in New York of children who are experiencing a serious inflammatory illness (known as MIS-C). To date, 13 countries and 25 other states have reported cases of this COVID-related illness in children. Learn more about symptoms and what to look out for here.
  3. The number of total COVID hospitalizations continues to fall. Total hospitalizations fell to 5,187, from 5,570 the day before. The number of new COVID hospitalizations fell to 246, from 295 the day before. Tragically, we lost 105 New Yorkers to the virus yesterday.
  4. Due to Coronavirus, there is a shortage of blood and blood donations are desperately needed. New York State is working with blood banks to ensure safe social distancing protocols are being followed. Learn how and where you can donate at http://ny.gov/donateblood.
  5. Rockland County is now eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care. The state is again permitting elective outpatient treatments in countries and hospitals without significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term, and a total of 51 counties now can offer elective surgeries.
  6. Uninsured New Yorkers can get a free diagnostic COVID-19 test at any CityMD urgent care facility. All CityMD locations are offering nasal swab tests seven days a week, and walk-ins are accepted. Also a reminder that New York health insurers have been directed to waive all costs associated with COVID-19 testing. If you believe you have COVID symptoms, don't wait — get tested.

Source: New York State

HHS Clarifies Pharmacists’ COVID-19 Testing in All States

May 21, 2020 –

The US Health and Human Services (HHS)  issued an advisory opinion yesterday concluding that licensed pharmacists may order and administer COVID-19 tests even in states that prohibit licensed pharmacists from ordering and administering these tests. This confirms the Administration’s intent and confidence in pharmacists to provide expanded and widespread testing capacity for Americans across the entire country.? 

On April 8, 2020, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued guidance authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, including serology tests, that the FDA has authorized.? Although some states have issued declarations or clarified that licensed pharmacists can order and administer COVID-19 tests, other states have limited or prohibited pharmacists from performing these tests. This opinion clarifies the scope of pharmacists' testing authority. 

APhA is still evaluating the opinion and how this impacts pharmacists’ payment and billing for COVID-19 tests and will be providing further guidance and information for members. Check the Pharmacists Guide to Coronavirus and join us this Thursday at 1pm for this week’s APhA COVID-19 webinar for up to date information.  

Source: APhA

May 19th - Reopening New York State

May 19, 2020 –

When we look to reopening the state, our methodology is based on data and metrics — we're opening regions that have hit specific data points and have reached all seven required metrics. Starting tomorrow, Western New York will be able to begin Phase 1 of reopening, joining Central New York, the North Country, the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley. To see where your region stands, visit the state's regional monitoring dashboard.

Here's what else you need to know:

1. I encourage major sports teams to plan to reopen without fans. New York State is ready and willing to partner with teams from any professional leagues that are interested in playing games safely, so fans can enjoy watching from home. If our teams — hockey, baseball, basketball, football or any others — can make it work safely for players and staff on their end, we're supportive. 

2. The number of total COVID hospitalizations continue to drop. Total hospitalizations fell to 5,850, from 5,897 the day before. There were 373 new COVID hospitalizations yesterday, essentially flat from 374 the previous day. Tragically, we lost 106 New Yorkers to the virus yesterday. 

3. Our priority is to protect our most vulnerable populations. New York will bring more tests to nursing home facilities to help them meet new guidelines mandating that all nursing homes and adult care facilities test all personnel for COVID-19 two times per week. We are connecting facilities with labs to get them more tests, and so far the labs have reserved at least 35,000 tests per day just for this purpose. The state is also sending 320,000 test kits to nursing homes statewide this week.

4. New York is bringing in international experts to help advise our reopening plan. The stakes are high, and expert, scientific opinion is far more valuable than political opinion. Dr. Michael T. Osterhold, Direct of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Samir Bhatt, Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London, will work with the state to provide technical advice and analyze data/metrics throughout our reopening process and help track progress.

5. Free mental health resources are available from Headspace. The company Headspace is offering free meditation and mindfulness exercises to educators, health care professionals, and New Yorkers who are out of work. (If you are unemployed, you can get a free one-year subscription to the Headspace app). Free curated content available for all New Yorkers continues to be available at headspace.com/ny. 

6. The State Department of Health has granted Erie County Medical Center a waiver to restart elective procedures. Elective outpatient treatments can resume there and in counties and hospitals without a significant risk of COVID-19 surge in the near term. A total of 49 counties can now resume elective surgeries to date.

Ever Upward,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Source: New York State

Kids with Kawasaki disease symptoms possibly linked to COVID-19

May 15, 2020 –

Recent reports of children experiencing Kawasaki disease, possibly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, are raising concerns among patients and pediatricians.

Most children with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or exhibit only mild symptoms. However, in the past two months, first in Europe, and more recently in the U.S., a small number of children developed a more serious inflammatory syndrome with COVID-19, often leading to hospitalization and occasionally requiring intensive care.

COVID-19 infection leading to critical illness in children remains very infrequent. According to the leaders of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifelong Congenital Heart Disease and Heart Health in the Young (Young Hearts), a few patients display symptoms found in other pediatric inflammatory conditions, most notably Kawasaki disease. Kawasaki disease is a rare condition that presents with a fever above 102°F to 104°F for at least five days, swelling of the lymph nodes, inflammation, a rash and other symptoms.

Children with this new, possibly COVID-19-related syndrome may have some or all the features of Kawasaki disease. These children have a persistent fever, inflammation and evidence of single or multi-organ dysfunction (shock, cardiac, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal or neurological disorder) and may or may not test positive for COVID-19.

“We want to reassure parents – this appears to be uncommon. While Kawasaki disease can damage the heart or blood vessels, the heart problems usually go away in five or six weeks, and most children fully recover,” said Jane Newburger, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, American Heart Association Young Hearts Council member, associate cardiologist-in-chief, academic affairs; medical director of the neurodevelopmental program; and director of the Kawasaki Program at Boston Children’s Hospital; and Commonwealth Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “Rarely, but sometimes, the coronary artery damage persists. Because of this, Kawasaki disease is the most common cause of acquired heart disease in children in developed countries. Prompt treatment is critical to prevent significant heart problems.”

Since some children are becoming very ill extremely quickly, children with these symptoms should be swiftly evaluated and cared for in hospitals with pediatric cardiac intensive care units, as needed. Because there is a small but increasing number of children with fever and evidence of inflammation who are not severely ill, all children with unexplained fever and elevated C- Reactive Protein (CRP) or white blood cell count should be carefully monitored.

In order to learn more, the American Heart Association’s Young Hearts Council feels it is important for children to be enrolled, wherever possible, in COVID-19 research projects that include obtaining serum or plasma samples, DNA and RNA studies for biobanking. Clinical trials and data integration across existing and planned registries of children ill from COVID-19 are needed. The Council is adopting the case definition put forth by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health..  

Further research is needed on the full spectrum of inflammatory disorders that appear to be related to COVID-19. Recently, the American Heart Association funded 12 research grants looking at the heart and brain health implications of coronavirus including a study examining impacts on the cardiovascular system due to a robust inflammatory response.

The American Heart Association’s Young Hearts Council is a volunteer scientific group of leading pediatric cardiologists.

Source: American Heart Association

NY Forward Reopening Plan - Regional Monitoring Dashboard

May 11, 2020 –

Today we enter a new phase of our battle against COVID-19. When we turn to reopening our state we will rely on data, science and metrics to guide us — as we have done all along. We will take a regional approach to reopening and will rely on seven core metrics to inform when a region is ready. The metrics require the infection, death and hospital rates meet specific standards, that the hospital capacity is there if needed and that testing and tracing are in place. (See the full criteria here.)

To keep everyone up to date on where things stand by region we launched a new regional monitoring dashboard that will be updated daily. Additionally, our NY Forward Reopening Plan, a clear and complete guide to reopening, offers a detailed look at the path forward. Together we flattened the curve and as we move into this next phase the same smart resolve, coupled with our commitment to each other, will get New York through.

Here's what else you need to know tonight: 

1. The Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions are ready to begin reopening on May 15th. The regions have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the reopening plan. Phase one includes reopening construction, manufacturing, retail for curbside pickup, agriculture, forestry and fishing.

2. New York will reopen certain low-risk business and recreational activities statewide on May 15th. This includes landscaping and gardening, low-risk outdoor recreational activities (like tennis) and drive-in movie theaters.

3. Regional "control rooms" have been announced to monitor key data during the reopening process. The groups will track the hospitalization rate, death rate, number of new hospitalizations, hospital bed capacity, ICU bed capacity, testing and contact tracing within its region. They will alert the state if any metrics go in the wrong direction — serving as a kind of control valve that will allow us to get people back to work and ease social isolation without triggering renewed spread of the virus or overwhelming the hospital system. 

4. The number of total COVID hospitalizations are dropping steadily. Total hospitalizations fell to 7,226, from 7,262 the day before. The number of new COVID hospitalizations dropped to 477, down from 521 the day before. We are now at about the level we were when "New York on PAUSE" when into effect. 

Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": Last week, Northwell Health discharged their 10,000th recovered COVID patient. The Northwell system, one of the largest in the state, has cared for nearly 13,000 COVID patients in Long Island, New York City and Westchester hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic.

If you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe to New York State's Coronavirus Updates here.

Ever Upward,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

 



Source: New York State - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Updated Guidance: Nearly Everyone Needs to Wear Masks at Pharmacies

May 06, 2020 –

New guidance from the CDC says nearly everyone in pharmacies—staff and customers, alike—now should be wearing masks to cover their face, regardless of symptoms. Find out what other new recommendations are included in the revised guidelines, including suggestions to reschedule routine vaccinations.

Source: U.S. Pharmacist Weekly

APhA News from Capitol Hill

May 05, 2020 –

An exclusive benefit for APhA members - NEWS FROM CAPITOL HILL 

Congress has been actively passing COVID-19 economic stimulus and coronavirus relief legislation, containing funding and new authorities for public health response. APhA has been advocating for several bills and provisions that, if passed, would benefit pharmacists and access to pharmacist services. We expect many of the following to be considered for potential inclusion in the next supplemental appropriations package that Congress is anticipated to vote on in May. 

  • Pharmacist Testing Coverage: Recognition of pharmacists as health care providers and authorized under Medicare Part B for coverage of COVID-19 and influenza testing by pharmacists. Tell Congress to include payment for pharmacists’ services in COVID-19 legislation. Click here to take action and send letters to your legislators. Please help APhA reach our 10,000 letter goal.
  • DIR Fix: In the House, 115 Representatives issued a bipartisan letter urging Congress to consider including provisions permanently prohibiting pharmacy direct and indirect renumeration (DIR) clawback fees by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in upcoming legislation to ensure the sustainability of pharmacies during this public health emergency. 
  • Pharmacists Tax Holiday: Legislation would create a tax holiday for health professionals and first responders who continue to serve during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Emergency Situations (HEROES) Act of 2020, initially did not include pharmacists as beneficiaries, but after a request from APhA, bill sponsor Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) added pharmacists to the list. The legislation would suspend federal tax withholding for 4 months, with a possible 3-month extension and apply to all income up to $150,000 annually, with income beyond that amount taxed at its regular rate.
  • Pharmacists Hazard Pay: Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation creating the “Heroes Fund,” which would, if passed, provide premium pay to front-line workers, including pharmacists, to reward them, ensure retention, and promote recruitment of additional workers. .

  

ENSURING PHARMACIST SAFETY 
Early in April, information on the scope and breadth of COVID-19 in the United States was evolving and pharmacists were struggling to implement appropriate safety measures to protect pharmacy personnel and patients from COVID-19. APhA was instrumental in generating action from federal agencies to issue strong guidelines specific to pharmacists and pharmacies.

  • CDC Guidance for Pharmacies: CDC, with input from APhA, issued guidance containing updated pharmacy/pharmacist specific safety measures and information to minimize their risk of exposure to the virus and reduce the risk for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Updates included information about use of face covering, postponing/rescheduling adult immunizations, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
  • OSHA Front-line Worker Safety Alert: Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect employees working in pharmacies, supermarkets, big box stores, and other retail establishments from exposure to coronavirus. Included in the alert is the recommendation that workers (pharmacy personnel) wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus. This alert was issued shortly after APhA sent a letter to OSHA requesting that OSHA clarify protections for pharmacists and pharmacy staff as front-line providers of patient care.
  • DEA for Flexibility for Signatures: Although APhA requested that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) exercise flexibility and not require a signature for the over-the-counter (OTC) purchase of pseudoephedrine (PSE) products during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEA declined to provide the flexibility. Unfortunately, in a response to APhA, DEA stated that the law prohibits them from providing an exception and advised pharmacists to provide hand sanitizer or extra pens for transmission control.

  

PHARMACIST COVID-19 TESTING 
The public battle cry for COVID-19 prevention and response has been “we need more tests” and “we need more testing sites.” APhA and other pharmacy organizations advocated to policymakers at all levels to utilize pharmacists to fill this COVID-19 testing need. Pharmacists are accessible, trained, and experienced in conducting flu and strep testing across the country. On April 8, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, including serology tests, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized. APhA and other pharmacy organizations are working with the federal government to reduce barriers to implementing the HHS issued guidance, including addressing logistics, payment, billing, and more. 

  • New CMS Rule Takes Steps Towards Increasing Pharmacists’ Role to Combat Coronavirus


CMS just released new regulations addressing pharmacists’ testing and patient care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes clarification of coverage of pharmacist medication management services under Medicare Part B and new telehealth flexibilities in outpatient hospital settings.

COVID-19 Testing by Pharmacists During the Public Health Emergency: 

  • Medicare will pay for COVID-19 tests performed by pharmacists as part of a Medicare enrolled laboratory.
  • COVID-19 tests may be covered when ordered by any healthcare professional, including pharmacists, authorized to do so under state law.
  • Influenza and respiratory virus tests performed in conjunction with a COVID-19 diagnostic test are covered when ordered by any healthcare professional, including pharmacists, authorized to do so under state law under certain circumstances.
  • Pharmacists can perform clinical services working with a physician or other practitioner to provide assessment and specimen collection services, under contract with the physician or other practitioner. The physician could bill Medicare for the services under “incident to” billing

Source: APhA

APhA - New CMS rule addresses pharmacists role in coronavirus testing

May 01, 2020 –

New CMS Rule: Update for Pharmacists 

CMS just released new regulations addressing pharmacists’ testing and patient care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.  It also includes clarification of coverage of pharmacist medication management services under Medicare Part B and new telehealth flexibilities in outpatient hospital settings. 

COVID-19 Testing by Pharmacists During the Public Health Emergency: 

  • Medicare will pay for COVID-19 tests performed by pharmacists as part of a Medicare enrolled laboratory.
  • COVID-19 tests may be covered when ordered by any healthcare professional, including pharmacists, authorized to do so under state law.
  • Influenza and respiratory virus tests performed in conjunction with a COVID-19 diagnostic test are covered when ordered by any healthcare professional, including pharmacists, authorized to do so under state law under certain circumstances.
  • Pharmacists can perform clinical services working with a physician or other practitioner to provide assessment and specimen collection services, under contract with the physician or other practitioner. The physician could bill Medicare for the services under “incident to” billing. 


Pharmacist Medication Management Services Under Part B:
In response to APhA’s request for clarity on pharmacists providing services and billing for Medicare beneficiaries incident to the professional services of a physician, CMS clarified: 

  • Medication management is covered under both Medicare Part B and Part D.
  • Pharmacists are considered “auxiliary personnel” under the regulations and can provide these services under the appropriate level of supervision under Part B if payment for the services is not made under the Medicare Part D benefit.
  • Clinical services shall be in accordance with the pharmacist’s state scope of practice and applicable law. 
  • CMS did not address APhA’s billing concerns and stated that the regulation does not alter current payment policy for pharmacist services furnished incident to the professional services of a physician.


Pharmacist Provision of Telehealth Services:
CMS also announced new flexibilities related to telehealth for health care professionals in a variety of practice settings, including provisions for telehealth delivery in the outpatient hospital setting that may have an impact on pharmacists. 

APhA is still analyzing the specific details and impact of the new regulations to clarify and expand these proposals to fully maximize the use of pharmacists to prevent, treat, and respond to the coronavirus. We plan to meet with CMS in the near future to get greater clarity and answers to your questions about this regulation.  APhA will communicate updates as we get new information.

Source: APhA

State & Territorial Health Department Websites

Apr 30, 2020 –

Looking for the website of a state or territorial health departments? This resource link to health departments in all 50 states, 8 US territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.

Source: CDC

Testing for COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020 –

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19: viral tests and antibody tests.

  • A viral test tells you if you have a current infection.
  • An antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection

An antibody test may not be able to show if you have a current infection, because it can take 1-3 weeks to make antibodies after symptoms occur. We do not know yet if having antibodies to the virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.

Who should be tested

To learn if you have a current infection, viral tests are used. But not everyone needs this test.

  • Most people will have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and may not need to be tested.
  • CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are made by state and localexternal icon health departments or healthcare providers.
  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first.
  • You can also visit your state or local health department’s website to look for the latest local information on testing.
  • Although supplies of tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.

Results

  • If you test positive for COVID-19 by a viral test, know what protective steps to take if you are sick or caring for someone.
  • If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral test, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.

 If you test positive or negative for COVID-19, no matter the type of test, you still should take preventive measures to?protect yourself and others.

Source: CDC

Patient signature log policy extended due to COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020 –

Express Scripts would like to clarify that pharmacies are not required to obtain signatures from patients during this unprecedented pandemic, unless required by law. This policy was implemented on March 19, and was originally scheduled to remain in place until April 30. This policy has been extended and will be in effect until further notice.

We understand that pharmacies will be servicing patients in unique ways and documentation could come in many forms, as an example but not meant to be all inclusive, documentation of that service may include:  the pharmacist writes in a log book the prescription number and date of service, the cash register receipt that includes prescription numbers, a text message or email from the patient, a note on the hard copy, or an electronic annotation in your system. We understand that patient care is the number one priority and nothing in this notice should be construed to hinder servicing the patient.

If you need a member’s specific prescription processing information or other help with a claim, please visit our Pharmacist Resource Center at https://prc.express-scripts.com.

Source: Express Scripts

NYS Coronavirus Update: Guidelines to Reopen New York -- New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board

Apr 29, 2020 –

As we look ahead to reopening New York, we will rely on facts. We will carefully track hospital capacity — if a hospital system in a region exceeds 70% capacity, that's a danger sign that will require action. Similarly, a rise in the rate of transmission (Rt) to 1.1, is another warning that will require us to scale back reopening. We will move forward only when there are 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people. So, when we begin to reopen regions of the state we will constantly keep our eyes glued to the key data points, and health indicators, to make sure that the virus remains firmly in our control. That is the best way to avoid new outbreaks and to move forward.

1. Today, I outlined factual, data-driven principles to guide us on reopening New York safely on a regional basis. Each region of the state — Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Long Island, Southern Tier and Western New York — must follow twelve guidelines as part of the reopening plan. Read the full guidelines here.

2. We announced the formation of the new New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board. The advisory board will help guide the state's reopening strategy and will be chaired by Former Secretaries to the Governor Steve Cohen and Bill Mulrow. The board includes over 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state. A list of the members of the advisory board is available here.

3. New COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped below 1,000. Yesterday, there were 953 new COVID hospitalizations in the state, down from 1,052 the day before. Although we are seeing a consistent decline of these numbers, we need to keep taking precautions so they continue to fall. Total hospitalizations fell slightly yesterday to 12,646 from 12,819 the day before. Tragically, there were 335 COVID-19 fatalities yesterday, down only slightly from 337 the previous day. We mourn the New Yorkers we've lost to this virus. Visit covid19tracker.health.ny.gov to see the latest data.

To help support our hero frontline workers, New York created the First Responders Fund. The fund will assist COVID-19 healthcare workers and first responders with expenses and costs, including child care. We encourage New Yorkers to donate if you can: Donations can be made electronically at www.healthresearch.org/donation-form/ or by check, mailed to "Health Research, Inc., 150 Broadway, Suite 560, Menands, NY 12204." (For checks, the donor should specify the donation is for "COVID-19 NYS Emergency Response.") 


Source: New York State

New York State Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order Allowing Pharmacists to Conduct Diagnostic Testing for COVID-19

Apr 25, 2020 –

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state is expanding diagnostic testing criteria to include more frontline New York workers - a direct result of rapidly increasing diagnostic testing capacity. The expanded criteria will now allow all first responders, health care workers and essential employees to be tested for COVID-19 even if they aren't symptomatic. The state will continue to expand testing criteria as testing capacity increases.

Governor Cuomo also announced he will issue an Executive Order allowing pharmacists to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This action will unlock a network of over 5,000 pharmacies as COVID-19 testing locations and help the state build a collection network to meet laboratory capacity and increase overall testing capacity.

Source: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

New Mandatory Federal Poster Details COVID-19 Sick Leave Rights

Apr 23, 2020 –

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) all public employers – and private employers with up to 500 employees must display a new required poster.

This poster summarizes the new emergency paid sick leave law which expands family and medical leave requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Federal and State Combos - plus Update Service - contain all federal and state posting requirements - including the new FFCRA poster – plus insurance to keep your business compliant with future labor law updates.

Get All Your Mandatory Posters Here 

Under the FFCRA, covered employers must provide: 

  • 2 weeks (up to 80 hours or a part-time employee’s 2-week equivalent) of paid sick leave dependent on qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19. 
  • Up to an additional 12 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave for employees who are unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Get the New FFCRA Poster 

Protect your business, protect your employees.
Resourceful Compliance 


Source: Resourceful Compliance

Texas pharmacists finding new ways to fight COVID-19

Apr 21, 2020 –

Every few minutes outside Tarrytown Pharmacy a cashier emerges wearing a mask, gloves and holding a grabber.

The cashier is bringing out prescriptions for customers who are keeping distance outside. Some even carry a small green bottle filled with alcohol. It’s to disinfect paper prescriptions that are still coming into the pharmacy.

“Just give it a quick squirt of alcohol just to help keep it sanitized,” explains Rannon Ching with Tarrytown Pharmacy. “We wanted to make sure that we minimize the sort of risk and exposure to possibly getting the virus.”

Ching says they’ve been also putting the hard copies in plastic bags and scanning the prescriptions so that they remain isolated. “There are certain studies out there that show that the virus can last for quite a while on surfaces besides just in the droplets passed between people,” says Ching.

He says even though they’ve gone from about 30 paper prescriptions a day to about five, he says it’s still concerning. Ching says lately his pharmacy has seen an uptick in paper prescriptions from freestanding ER’s.

The pharmacy has moved services to curbside, delivery and online during COVID-19. The team says over the last several weeks they’ve had to come up with new ways to combat the virus and keep everyone safe. 

Source: Tarrytown Pharmacy

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Authorizes First Test for Patient At-Home Sample Collection

Apr 21, 2020 –

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first diagnostic test with a home collection option for COVID-19. Specifically, the FDA re-issued the emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to permit testing of samples self-collected by patients at home using LabCorp’s Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit.


“Throughout this pandemic we have been facilitating test development to ensure patients access to accurate diagnostics, which includes supporting the development of reliable and accurate at-home sample collection options,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “The FDA’s around-the-clock work since this outbreak began has resulted in the authorization of more than 50 diagnostic tests and engagement with over 350 test developers. Specifically, for tests that include home sample collection, we worked with LabCorp to ensure the data demonstrated from at-home patient sample collection is as safe and accurate as sample collection at a doctor’s office, hospital or other testing site. With this action, there is now a convenient and reliable option for patient sample collection from the comfort and safety of their home.”


This reissued EUA for LabCorp’s molecular test permits testing of a sample collected from the patient’s nose using a designated self-collection kit that contains nasal swabs and saline. Once patients self-swab to collect their nasal sample, they mail their sample, in an insulated package, to a LabCorp lab for testing.  LabCorp intends to make the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kits available to consumers in most states, with a doctor’s order, in the coming weeks.


The LabCorp home self-collection kit includes a specific Q-tip-style cotton swab for patients to use to collect their sample. Due to concerns with sterility and cross-reactivity due to inherent genetic material in cotton swabs, other cotton swabs should not be used with this test at the present time. The FDA continues to work with test developers to determine whether or not Q-tip-style cotton swab can be used safely and effectively with other tests.


This authorization only applies to the LabCorp COVID-19 RT-PCR Test for at-home collection of nasal swab specimens using the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 home collection kit. It is important to note that this is not a general authorization for at-home collection of patient samples using other collection swabs, media, or tests, or for tests fully conducted at home.


The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration

NYS Coronavirus Update: Aid to Public Housing Residents and Reimagine NY Task Force

Apr 20, 2020 –

A Message from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

1. New York is launching a new partnership with the company Ready Responders to bring healthcare services, including COVID-19 diagnostic testing, to residents of public housing in NYC. The state will partner with Representative Greg Meeks, Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Attorney General Letitia James, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Bronx President Ruben Diaz Jr. on this effort. An initial pilot program will begin this week at locations across New York City.

 2. We need to protect our vulnerable communities. The state will deliver 500,000 cloth masks — at least one for every resident — and 10,000 gallons of hand sanitizer to public housing communities. It is now mandatory for all New Yorkers to wear face coverings in public settings, where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain and when using public transportation.

 3. I announced the creation of the Reimagine NY Task Force to improve systems in downstate New York once the state is no longer on PAUSE. The Task Force will be led by the state and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and will comprise other local elected officials and housing and transportation experts.

Subscribe to New York State's Coronavirus Updates here.

Ever Upward,
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Source: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Capitol Building

Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19

Apr 17, 2020 –

Cloth face coverings should—

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape


CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Source: CDC

Evaluating and Testing Persons for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Apr 16, 2020 –

Clinicians considering testing of persons with possible COVID-19 should continue to work with their local and state health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or use COVID-19 diagnostic testing, authorized by the Food and Drug Administration under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) through clinical laboratories.  Increasing testing capacity will allow clinicians to consider COVID-19 testing for a wider group of symptomatic patients.


Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever1 and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). Priorities for testing include:


Other considerations that may guide testing are epidemiologic factors such as the occurrence of local community transmission of COVID-19 infections in a jurisdiction. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness.

Source: CDC

New Yorkers Must Wear Masks When Unable to Socially Distance, Gov. Cuomo says

Apr 15, 2020 –

(CNN) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order that requires everyone in the state to wear a mask or a mouth/nose covering in public when not social distancing, he said Wednesday.

There will be a three-day notice period before the order is enforced, allowing New Yorkers to secure masks or coverings. He said he is considering a civil penalty for those who break the rule. 

The decision was announced as Cuomo said that another 752 people died from coronavirus on Tuesday, a slight decrease from the previous day and further evidence that New York has reached a plateau in its outbreak. Hospitalizations -- both the net change and the three-day average -- as well as admissions to the intensive care unit and intubations across New York are down, he said.

"You see the flattening of the curve," Cuomo said. "We're not out of the woods ... but we can control the spread."


Source: CNN

Pharmacists tapped by UnitedHealthcare to expand access to care and help improve health outcomes in Ohio

Apr 15, 2020 –

Pharmacists tapped by UnitedHealthcare to expand access to care and help improve health outcomes in Ohio

Today, the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA) joined UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Ohio in announcing a new, first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at utilizing community pharmacists to expand patient access to care, relieve pressure on health systems, and help drive better health outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries.

The new UnitedHealthcare Pharmacy Care Extension program seeks to tap into the solid relationships that local, community pharmacists have with their patients and leverage the expertise of those pharmacists to compliment physician efforts to manage chronic diseases and prevent unnecessary rehospitalizations.

The program, which officially launched today as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to put unprecedented strain on the state’s health care delivery system, kicks off in Northeast Ohio with Franklin Pharmacy in Warren and Brewster Family Pharmacy in Brewster.

“The addition of the pharmacist as a critical member of the patient care team has repeatedly proven to provide better results and keep people healthier. For too long, pharmacists have been an underutilized resource in the health care system, and UnitedHealthcare should be commended for extending this much-needed service to their patients,” said OPA Director of Strategy and Practice Transformation and Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy Stuart Beatty.

Read more

Source: Ohio Pharmacist Association

Pharmacists given authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests

Apr 15, 2020 –

As of April 15, 2020

Pharmacists given authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests 

NCPA is currently seeking clarification on this authorization and will notify members promptly when more information is available. 

Watch this How To video on applying for a CLIA Certificate of Waiver. You’ll need this form to get started.

NEW:  

Community Pharmacy COVID-19 Test Vetting (4/15/2020)

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs

Source: NCPA National Community Pharmacist Association

NYS Coronavirus Update: Face Coverings Must Be Worn In Public -- Scaling Up Testing -- 3D-Printed PPE

Apr 15, 2020 –

As we continue to flatten the curve and slow the infection rate of this virus and begin to consider reopening the economy, the single best tool we have to do that is large-scale testing.

But large-scale testing presents an enormous challenge and the unvarnished truth is that we can't yet test to the scale we need. To test on a wide enough scale, we need testing equipment. We need swabs. We need vials. We need lab space. We need personnel. We need all of these things at a capacity that does not currently exist.

Testing on this magnitude is terrain never before explored. But we need to do this — and we need to work with the federal government to get there. So let's get to work. 

Photo of the Day: A lone runner jogs by the reservoir in Central Park (Photo by Karen Smul)


Here's what else you need to know tonight:

 

1. You MUST cover your mouth and nose when in public and when social distancing cannot be maintained. I am issuing an Executive Order requiring all people in New York to wear a mask or a face covering when out in public and in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, such as on public transportation. The Executive Order will go into effect on Friday, April 17th. Remember that wearing a face covering does not mean you can ignore other precautions — we still direct all New Yorkers to stay at home for all but essential errands.

 

2. Beginning this week, we will start conducting antibody tests, prioritizing frontline healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers. Using a new finger prick method, the state will test up to 2,000 New Yorkers per day for antibodies (proteins in our blood that indicate someone has had the virus). The state is also asking the FDA for expedited approval of a finger prick antibody test that could test up to 100,000 New Yorkers a day. We are continuing to engage with other partners including hospital labs and private companies to bring mass antibody testing to scale statewide.

 

3. New York's healthcare situation has stabilized so we can now help others in need. New York will never forget the generosity people across the country showed our state, and I said when you need help New Yorkers will be there. We will send 100 ventilators to Michigan and 50 ventilators to Maryland.

 

4. An Executive Order will be issued requiring nursing homes to report positive COVID-19 cases and deaths to the families of those who are living in the nursing home facility within 24 hours. The order will include adult home and other assisted living facilities. Previously, the State Department of Health issued a guidance asking these facilities to communicate this information to families; this new order makes it mandatory.

Tonight's "Deep Breath Moment": SUNY and CUNY students, faculty and staff are using 3D printers to produce critical personal protective equipment for New York's frontline health workers. SUNY campuses are producing about 2,100 face shields a day, while teams at six CUNY colleges have adapted their 3D printers to make elements that are used in protective face shields for local hospitals. The face shields are being donated to medical teams across the state. 
 
If you were forwarded this email, you can subscribe to New York State's Coronavirus Updates here.

Source: Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Strategic preparedness and response plan for the new coronavirus

Apr 14, 2020 –

Overview

This strategic preparedness and response plan outlines the public health measures that the international community stands ready to provide to support all countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. The document takes what we have learned so far about the virus and translates that knowledge into strategic action that can guide the efforts of all national and international partners when developing context-specific national and regional operational plans.

Download PDF

Source: World Health Association

FDA Clarifies CLIA-waived Status for Point-of-Care SARS-CoV-2 Tests under Emergency Use Authorizations

Apr 10, 2020 –

Audience: Clinical Laboratory Professionals

Level: Laboratory Update

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified that, when it grants an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a point-of-care test, that test is deemed to be CLIA-waived. For the duration of the national emergency declaration for COVID-19, such tests can be performed in any patient care setting that operates under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver or Certificate of Compliance/Certificate of Accreditation.

In addition, FDA clarified that tests for SARS-CoV-2 that are offered prior to or without an EUA have not been reviewed by FDA, are not FDA authorized, and have not received a CLIA categorization. Thus, those tests are considered high complexity by default until they receive an EUA or other FDA approval that indicates they may be performed as moderate complexity or waived tests.

For more information, visit this FDA Web page, navigate to the section titled “General FAQs,” and view the first two questions and their corresponding answers.

Additional Resources:

Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)

Clinical Laboratory COVID-19 Response Weekly Calls

CDC COVID-19 Information for Laboratories

CDC COVID-19 Website

Register for CDC Health Alert Network (HAN) notifications, including updates about COVID-19. Enter your email address to sign up.

If you have any questions, please contact us at LOCS@cdc.gov.

Source: CDC

HHS Statements on Authorizing Licensed Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests

Apr 09, 2020 –

Earlier today, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued new guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized. 

HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement:

“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it. Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information. The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers.”

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. issued the following statement:

“In an effort to expand testing capabilities, we are authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients.  The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a healthcare professional for many Americans.  This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our healthcare workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”

OASH’s Guidance for Licensed Pharmacists, COVID-19 Testing, and Immunity under the PREP Act is available here.

FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations for diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices to diagnose and respond to public health emergencies is available here.

Priorities for testing patients with suspected COVID-19 infection are available here.

Source: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

New York Carves Pharmacy Benefits Out of Medicaid Managed Care

Apr 09, 2020 –

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the New York state budget bill for FY2021, which contains a provision directing the Department of Health to carve the Medicaid prescription drug benefit out of the managed care program and into the state-administered fee-for-service program beginning in April 2021. Under this move, PBMs will have less control over a patient's choice of pharmacy and pharmacy reimbursement amounts. In 2017, West Virginia saved $54 million by making a similar move. Congratulations to the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York and all pharmacy advocates for this great win for N.Y.'s Medicaid beneficiaries and their trusted community pharmacies!

Source: NCPA National Community Pharmacist Association

New Rules and Limitations for Depreciation and Expensing Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Apr 09, 2020 –

Businesses can immediately expense more under the new law

A taxpayer may elect to expense the cost of any section 179 property and deduct it in the year the property is placed in service. The new law increased the maximum deduction from $500,000 to $1 million. It also increased the phase-out threshold from $2 million to $2.5 million. For taxable years beginning after 2018, these amounts of $1 million and $2.5 million will be adjusted for inflation.

The new law also expands the definition of section 179 property to allow the taxpayer to elect to include the following improvements made to nonresidential real property after the date when the property was first placed in service:

  • Qualified improvement property, which means any improvement to a building’s interior. However, improvements do not qualify if they are attributable to: 
    • the enlargement of the building,
    • any elevator or escalator or
    • the internal structural framework of the building.
  • Roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems and security systems.

These changes apply to property placed in service in taxable years beginning after Dec. 31, 2017.

Temporary 100 percent expensing for certain business assets (first-year bonus depreciation)

The new law increases the bonus depreciation percentage from 50 percent to 100 percent for qualified property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, and before Jan. 1, 2023. The bonus depreciation percentage for qualified property that a taxpayer acquired before Sept. 28, 2017, and placed in service before Jan. 1, 2018, remains at 50 percent. Special rules apply for longer production period property and certain aircraft.

The definition of property eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation was expanded to include used qualified property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017, if all the following factors apply:

  • The taxpayer or its predecessor didn’t use the property at any time before acquiring it.
  • The taxpayer didn’t acquire the property from a related party.
  • The taxpayer didn’t acquire the property from a component member of a controlled group of corporations.
  • The taxpayer’s basis of the used property is not figured in whole or in part by reference to the adjusted basis of the property in the hands of the seller or transferor.
  • The taxpayer’s basis of the used property is not figured under the provision for deciding basis of property acquired from a decedent.
  • Also, the cost of the used property eligible for bonus depreciation doesn’t include the basis of property determined by reference to the basis of other property held at any time by the taxpayer (for example, in a like-kind exchange or involuntary conversion).


The new law added qualified film, television and live theatrical productions as types of qualified property that may be eligible for 100 percent bonus depreciation. This provision applies to property acquired and placed in service after Sept. 27, 2017.

Under the new law, certain types of property are not eligible for bonus depreciation in any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017. One such exclusion from qualified property is for property primarily used in the trade or business of the furnishing or sale of:

  • Electrical energy, water or sewage disposal services,
  • Gas or steam through a local distribution system or
  • Transportation of gas or steam by pipeline.


This exclusion applies if the rates for the furnishing or sale have to be approved by a federal, state or local government agency, a public service or public utility commission, or an electric cooperative.

The new law also adds an exclusion for any property used in a trade or business that has had floor-plan financing indebtedness if the floor-plan financing interest was taken into account under section 163(j)(1)(C). Floor-plan financing indebtedness is secured by motor vehicle inventory that in a business that sells or leases motor vehicles to retail customers.

The new law eliminated qualified improvement property acquired and placed in service after December 31, 2017 as a specific category of qualified property.

Changes to depreciation limitations on luxury automobiles and personal use property

The new law changed depreciation limits for passenger vehicles placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017. If the taxpayer doesn’t claim bonus depreciation, the greatest allowable depreciation deduction is:

  • $10,000 for the first year,
  • $16,000 for the second year,
  • $9,600 for the third year, and
  • $5,760 for each later taxable year in the recovery period.

If a taxpayer claims 100 percent bonus depreciation, the greatest allowable depreciation deduction is:

  • $18,000 for the first year,
  • $16,000 for the second year,
  • $9,600 for the third year, and
  • $5,760 for each later taxable year in the recovery period.

The new law also removes computer or peripheral equipment from the definition of listed property. This change applies to property placed in service after Dec. 31, 2017.

Source: IRS

Effective Now: New FMLA Requirements for Employers

Apr 08, 2020 –

New legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. 

The federal government released official details about the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and a new required labor law poster. 

The new act expands family and medical leave requirements for all public and private employers with up to 500 employees. 

These new provisions will be in effect April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. 

Our Federal and State Combo - plus Update Service - contains all federal and state posting requirements - including the new FFCRA poster – plus insurance to keep your business compliant with future labor law updates.

Get All Your Mandatory Posters Here 

Under the FFCRA, covered employers must provide: 

  • 2 weeks (up to 80 hours or a part-time employee’s 2-week equivalent) of paid sick leave dependent on qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19. 
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave for employees who are unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Get the New FFCRA Poster 

Protect your business, protect your employees. 

Resourceful Compliance 

Source: Resourceful Compliance.com

Considerations for Pharmacies during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 08, 2020 –

This guidance applies to all pharmacy staff to minimize their risk of exposure to the virus and reduce the risk for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a vital part of the healthcare system, pharmacies play an important role in providing medicines, therapeutics, vaccines, and critical health services to the public. Ensuring continuous function of pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic is important. During the pandemic, pharmacy staff can minimize their risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 and reduce the risk for customers by using the principles of infection prevention and control and social distancing.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Breaking News: COVID-19 IgG/IgM Antibody Testing

Apr 08, 2020 –

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 8, 2020

HHS Statements on Authorizing Licensed Pharmacists to Order and Administer COVID-19 Tests

Earlier today, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health issued new guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized. 

HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement:

“Giving pharmacists the authorization to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients means easier access to testing for Americans who need it. Pharmacists play a vital role in delivering convenient access to important public health services and information. The Trump Administration is pleased to give pharmacists the chance to play a bigger role in the COVID-19 response, alongside all of America’s heroic healthcare workers.”

HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett P. Giroir, M.D. issued the following statement:

“In an effort to expand testing capabilities, we are authorizing licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests to their patients.  The accessibility and distribution of retail and independent community-based pharmacies make pharmacists the first point of contact with a healthcare professional for many Americans.  This will further expand testing for Americans, particularly our healthcare workers and first responders who are working around the clock to provide care, compassion and safety to others.”

OASH’s Guidance for Licensed Pharmacists, COVID-19 Testing, and Immunity under the PREP Act is available here.

FDA’s Emergency Use Authorizations for diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices to diagnose and respond to public health emergencies is available here.

Priorities for testing patients with suspected COVID-19 infection are available here.

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

Governor Abbott Waives Certain Pharmacy Regulations To Increase Workforce Capabilities

Apr 08, 2020 –

April 7, 2020 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott has temporarily waived certain regulatory requirements to increase the job capacities of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns. Under the Governor's waiver, pharmacy technicians can now accept prescription drug orders over the phone — a responsibility typically reserved for pharmacists. The Governor's waiver also allows pharmacy technicians to transfer or receive a transfer of original prescription information on behalf of patients. These two waivers can be utilized at the discretion of pharmacists. Additionally, Governor Abbott has waived certain regulations allowing pharmacy interns to assist pharmacists without the designation of preceptor.

"By expanding the duties of pharmacy technicians and the additional availability of interns to all pharmacists, we are ensuring members of the pharmacy workforce can efficiently serve their fellow Texans throughout the COVID-19 response," said Governor Abbott. "These waivers provide flexibility to our pharmacists and those that assist them to ensure they can continue to perform their important duties."

Source: Office of the Texas Governor

Coronavirus: Texas Waives Pharmacists' Requirements

Apr 08, 2020 –

The waiver issued by the governor is designed to increase job capacities of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns amid growing illness.

AUSTIN, TX — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday temporarily waived certain regulatory requirements to increase job capacities of pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns. 

Under the waiver, pharmacy technicians can now accept prescription drug orders over the phone — a responsibility typically reserved for pharmacists. The regulatory requirements waiver allows pharmacy technicians to transfer or receive a transfer of original prescription information on behalf of patients, the governor's office explained. 

The dual waivers can be utilized at the discretion of pharmacists, the governor said. Additionally, Abbott waived certain regulations allowing pharmacy interns to assist pharmacists without the designation of preceptor.

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"By expanding the duties of pharmacy technicians and the additional availability of interns to all pharmacists, we are ensuring members of the pharmacy workforce can efficiently serve their fellow Texans throughout the COVID-19 response," Abbott said in a prepared statement. "These waivers provide flexibility to our pharmacists and those that assist them to ensure they can continue to perform their important duties."

Source: Texas -- Gov. Greg Abbott

COVID-19 Testing at Community Pharmacies

Apr 08, 2020 –

On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, HHS announced guidance authorizing pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests. NCPA is currently seeking clarification on this authorization and will notify members promptly when more information is available.

These are the levels of regulatory oversight for test kits.

  1. Tests which FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization: Click here to search EUA status.
  2. Tests which have requested EUA: Go to the FAQ link below and check the list under “Q: What laboratories are offering testing under the policy outlined in Section IV.A of the Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019?”
  3. Tests approved by state authority: Go to the FAQ link below and check the list under “Q: What States or territories have chosen to authorize laboratories within that State or territory to develop and perform a test for COVID-19 under the policy outlined in Section IV.B of the Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease 2019?”.
  4. Antibody (serology) tests: Go to the FAQ link below and check the list under “Q: What serology tests are being offered under the policy outlined in Section IV.D of the Policy for Diagnostic Tests for Coronavirus Disease-2019?”

?Click here for FDA’s testing FAQ including a list of state programs and companies preparing EUA.


Testing collaboration scenarios

  1. NCPA is advocating for provider status which would allow pharmacists to order COVID-19 tests from laboratories for Medicare patients. This limited to COVID-19 and influenza testing during the emergency declaration.
  2. Home testing kits: Note: **As of 4/8/2020 No kits are approved for home use, including self-collection of samples to be sent to a clinical laboratory.**
  3. Point-of-care testing: Pharmacy screens asymptomatic patients for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.


Business feasibility questions

  1. Does the pharmacy have CLIA Certificate of Waiver? Here’s a CLIA Certificate of Waiver How-To.
  2. Is the pharmacy credentialed to bill medical plans for testing?
  3. Do local or state health officials require test result reporting?
  4. Does the pharmacy have access to enough personal protective equipment?
  5. What are the overhead costs for performing specimen collection for laboratory analysis?
  6. Does offering testing services exceed the pharmacy’s tolerance for risk of exposure to employees?

Source: NCPA National Community Pharmacist Association

How Pharmacists Can Protect Themselves, Staff Against COVID-19

Apr 07, 2020 –

Queensbury, NY—In early March, a pharmacist working at the CVS Pharmacy in Queensbury, New York, tested positive for COVID-19. That, and some other situations around the country, have reminded pharmacists of the risk they and their staffs face showing up for work every day.

Source: U.S. Pharmacist

Opportunity for Medicaid to Cover Home Delivery Services of Prescription Drugs

Apr 06, 2020 –

In response to President Trump's national emergency declaration, CMS has taken steps to remove red tape to all state more flexibility in amending their Medicaid program to provide appropriate benefits to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.  CMS has provided a template for states to request a waiver to amend their state Medicaid plans to increase enrollment and provide for additional benefits to battle the disease. 

One of the additional benefits highlighted in the template is an adjustment to the professional dispensing fee or a supplemental payment for delivery to account for additional costs incurred by pharmacists for home delivery.

Click the below PDF to read the full article.

Source: CPESN

NYS on Pause Extended For Two Weeks

Apr 06, 2020 –

Governor Cuomo directed schools and nonessential businesses to stay closed through April 29th when the state will re-evaluate.

  • Directs Schools and Nonessential Businesses to Stay Closed for Additional Two Weeks Through April 29th
  • Increases Maximum Fine for Violations of the State's Social Distancing Protocol from $500 to $1,000
  • Requests Use of USNS Comfort Hospital Ship for Only COVID-19 Patients
  • 802 Ventilators Have Been Distributed Downstate Through the State's "Surge and Flex" System
  • Establishes First Responders Fund to Be Used for Expenses Associated with COVID-19 First Responders - Blackstone is Making Anchor $10 Million Donation
  • State is Partnering with Headspace to Offer Free Meditation and Mindfulness Content for all New Yorkers
  • South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island & Brooklyn Center Temporary Hospital at 170 Buffalo Avenue Will Open This Week Specifically for COVID-19 Patients
  • Confirms 8,658 Additional Coronavirus Cases in New York State - Bringing Statewide Total to 130,689; New Cases in 48 Counties

Source: New York State

Guidance for the Pharmacy Community Regarding COVID-19

Apr 03, 2020 – Guidance for the Pharmacy Community Regarding COVID-19 The New Jersey Board of Pharmacy (Board) is closely monitoring the effect that COVID-19 is having on the pharmacy community and the community’s ability to care for patients. There are a number of challenges that pharmacies may face in the foreseeable future related to shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), staffing issues, delivery of medications to patients (at home, in LTC facilities, etc.), access to pharmacy practice sites, etc. If a pharmacy is not able to continue to operate their business in a manner that allows it to adhere to the Board’s regulations and to provide services to its patients due to an issue related to COVID-19, that pharmacy should contact the Board. Depending on each individual situation, the pharmacy may be able to request a temporary waiver of a specific regulation that would allow them to provide continuity of care for their patients. For expediency, temporary waiver requests should be submitted to the Executive Director via email at rubinaccioa@dca.njoag.gov. The request should contain a detailed description of the COVID-19 related issue that the pharmacy is encountering, and a proposed solution to provide continuity of patient care, including the regulation which is the subject of the waiver request. Each request will be reviewed on an expedited basis and a determination will be made by the Board President based on the information supplied.

Source: New Jersey Office of the Attorney General

California Pharmacists Association COVID-19: Resources & Updates

Apr 03, 2020 – To provide support to all pharmacy professionals, CPhA has compiled important resources to ensure the health of your colleagues, patients, and families. These resources include the most current statewide orders to limit the spread of COVID-19 and requests from various health organizations of our healthcare providers. Review these resources and check our social media pages regularly for news and updates. We encourage you to share, print and display our infographics and check our social media pages regularly for news and updates.

Source: California Pharmacists Association

Latest COVID-19 Information From the FDA

Apr 03, 2020 – FDA is working with U.S. Government partners, including CDC, and international partners to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

Source: FDA U.S. Food & Drun

APHA's Get Ready COVID-19 Campaign

Apr 03, 2020 – APHA's Get Ready campaign helps Americans prepare themselves, their families and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters and other emergencies.

Source: American Plus Health Association

ASHP COVID-19 Pandemic Assessment Tool

Apr 03, 2020 – Welcome to the COVID-19 Pandemic Assessment Tool for Health-System Pharmacy Departments. This tool is adapted from the ASHP Research and Education Foundation Pandemic Influenza Assessment Tool for Health-System Pharmacy Departments, developed in 2008 by an expert panel composed of health-system pharmacists, physicians, pandemic influenza policy experts, a healthcare executive and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the ASPR COVID-19 Healthcare Planning Checklist. This tool is intended to assist in COVID-19 pandemic planning efforts in departments of pharmacy and to

Source: American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP)

New York State on PAUSE Extended

Apr 02, 2020 – Governor Cuomo announced the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone.

Source: New York State

AMA, APHA, ASHP ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ABOUT COVID-19 MEDICATIONS

Mar 28, 2020 – The American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, and American Society of HealthSystem Pharmacists issued a joint statement today on inappropriate ordering, prescribing or dispensing of medications to treat COVID-19. The organizations issued this joint statement to highlight the important role that physicians, pharmacists and health systems play in being just stewards of health care resources during times of emergency and national disaster. The joint statement is in response to reports of physicians and others prophylactically prescribing, medications currently identified as potential treatments for COVID-19 (e.g., chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin) for themselves, their families, or their colleagues. There also are reports that some pharmacies and hospitals have been purchasing excessive amounts of these medications in anticipation of potentially using them for COVID-19 prevention and treatment. The organizations strongly oppose these actions. Stockpiling these medications—or depleting supplies with excessive, anticipatory orders—can have grave consequences for patients with conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis if the drugs are not available in the community. The health care community must collectively balance the needs of patients taking medications on a regular basis for an existing condition with new prescriptions that may be needed for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Being just stewards of limited resources is essential. For more information: AMA Robert Mills Robert.Mills@ama-assn.org 312-543-7268 APHA Chad Clinton cclinton@aphanet.org 202-429-7558 ASHP Aretha Hankinson ahankinson@ashp.org, 301-452-0569

Source: American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association, American Society of HealthSystem Pharmacists

Compounding Products in Shortage or Anticipated to be in Shortage During the National Emergency

Mar 26, 2020 – March 26, 2020 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm 1061 Rockville, MD 20852 RE: Compounding Products in Shortage or Anticipated to be in Shortage During the National Emergency On behalf of America’s compounding pharmacists, we write to urge FDA to help us provide urgently needed compounded products to patients and fill a critical supply chain need for certain over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products during the current COVID-19 public health emergency. As this health crisis continues, pharmacies, wholesalers and manufacturers are experiencing or are likely to experience shortages of critical OTC and prescription drug products that are needed for patient care. Compounders stand ready to provide needed medications for COVID-19 treatment and drugs in shortage in the U.S. as a result of this global crisis. We seek specific FDA enforcement discretion to compound these products and provide health care professionals and patients safely compounded versions of the medications they need. We ask FDA to engage with the pharmacy compounding community now in identifying drugs in shortage or anticipated to be in shortage and work with us to ensure that timely FDA guidance is clear and thorough regarding scope of authority, formulas, information, and ingredients.

Source: American Pharmacists Association

APhA Statement on Inappropriate Ordering, Prescribing, and Dispensing of Medications and Supplies

Mar 26, 2020 – As evidence-based medicine identifies existing and new medications and treatments for preventing and treating coronavirus, access to these important modalities is critical for patient continuity of care, positive health outcomes and continued coordination and collaboration between healthcare professionals. Inappropriate ordering, prescribing, dispensing and sale of these products by any entity or healthcare provider violates health professionals’ existing codes of ethics focused on fair and equitable access to health resources, and meeting the legitimate needs of patients and society. Therefore, the American Pharmacists Association 1. supports the provision of preventive therapies to protect healthcare workers from infectious diseases when the science supports, and generally accepted guidelines or governmental agencies recommend, their use. 2. asserts that inappropriate ordering, prescribing and/or dispensing which results in hoarding of medicines by entities or healthcare professionals for their anticipatory, personal, family or colleague use, is unethical and contributes to drug shortages. 3. supports pharmacists’ practice autonomy and utilization of their professional judgement in the stewardship of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. 4. calls on regulatory bodies and associations regulating and representing members of hospitals, health care facilities and the health professions to collaborate in addressing inappropriate or unethical ordering, prescribing and/or sales of medications and medical supplies, exacerbating shortages of these treatments.

Source: American Pharmacists Association

Express Scripts COVID-19 Signature Log Clarification

Mar 20, 2020 – As a follow-up to the Express Communication dated March 19, 2020, and titled, “COVID-19 and signature logs”, Express Scripts would like to clarify that pharmacies are NOT required to obtain signatures from patients during this unprecedented pandemic, unless required by law. We understand that pharmacies will be servicing patients in unique ways and documentation could come in many forms, as an example but not meant to be all inclusive, documentation of that service may include: the pharmacist writes in a log book the prescription number and date of service, the cash register receipt that includes prescription numbers, a text message or email from the patient, a note on the hard copy, or an electronic annotation in your system. We understand that patient care is the number one priority and nothing in this notice should be construed to hinder servicing the patient. If you need a member’s specific prescription processing information or other help with a claim, please visit our Pharmacist Resource Center at https://prc.express-scripts.com. Thank you, Provider Outreach Team Express Scripts One Express Way St. Louis, MO 63121

Source: Express Scripts

COVID-19: What Community Pharmacies Are Doing in the Hardest-Hit States

Mar 19, 2020 – “Our American society is entering into a new reality when it comes to public health,” Michael Jackson, BPharm, EVP, and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association (FPA) told Drug Topics® in an email. As of today, Florida’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have grown to 390, with 9 deaths from the pandemic.1

Source: Drug Topics