Authorities worry that the COVID-19 crisis will bring New York’s overburdened healthcare system to its knees as the number of cases increase. Without an immediate response from community pharmacists, the city’s hospitals, urgent care centers, and other healthcare facilities could exceed capacity.
New York’s state and city officials have been working hard to contain the virus. The efforts needs to include the 6-point plan for empowering pharmacists by the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY). Pharmacists are some of the city’s most highly trained healthcare professionals. Activating the following plan would make it possible for thousands of New York pharmacists to protect patients, educate the public, and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Authorizing pharmacists to perform tests for COVID-19, the flu, strep, and other conditions will make it easier to diagnose health problems and prevent patients from visiting emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and urgent care facilities. Currently, pharmacists do not have the authority to administer the tests.
A COVID-10 vaccination does not exist yet, but pharmacists need the authority to administer the CDC vaccinations so they can begin as soon as a vaccine gets approved.
3. Refill Discretion
Pharmacists need the option to refill 30-day prescriptions for chronically ill patients, even when doctors have not authorized refills. As doctors and other healthcare professionals become overwhelmed, they may not have time to refill critical prescriptions. Giving pharmacists the discretion to refill up to 30 days of medication will protect patients and prevent them from adding a further burden to the healthcare system.
4. Limit the Spread
Drop restrictions of medication delivery, curbside delivery, and other delivery options. Waiving the restrictions will minimize contact between patients and limit the spread of COVID-19
5. Address Medication Shortages
Disruptions in prescription drug supply chains could affect people with a variety of health conditions. Pharmacists need permission to compound commercially available prescriptions during shortages. Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) must pat for the compounds.
6. Reform Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs)
PBMs, who often follow abusive practices, have severely damaged pharmacies in recent years. Pharmacies have had to layoff employees and cut hours. More than 2,000 pharmacies closed in 2019 nationwide. New York State must reform PBM regulations immediately as part of its 2021 budget.
COVID-19 will stress New York’s healthcare system. Pharmacists need authorization to do all they can to treat patients and stop the disease from spreading.