As our country continues to combat surges caused by the Delta variant and navigate the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic, I want to take a moment to reflect on critical advocacy efforts that are significantly expanding patients’ access to care and demonstrating the essential role of pharmacists in this country – advocacy that we believe brings us one step closer to achieving greater recognition as providers.
Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act declaration to allow qualified pharmacists nationwide to order and administer select COVID-19 therapeutics, which are currently limited to monoclonal antibodies administered subcutaneously. The amendment also authorizes qualified pharmacy technicians and pharmacy interns to administer monoclonal antibodies under the direct supervision of a qualified pharmacist. The PREP Act declaration is forward-looking given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, and may authorize pharmacists to also order and administer select COVID-19 therapies that are under development when they become available. ASHP led a concerted effort to make this happen, and we are pleased that our advocacy on this critical work has succeeded.
ASHP has built a strong relationship with the new administration, including top leaders at HHS. Throughout the pandemic, we have provided expertise and updates about what our members are experiencing. We have also provided many ASHP resources and guidance from you, our members, who are serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
Following the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the first post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 emergency use, ASHP immediately drafted a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and invited other pharmacy organizations to join us in requesting an additional PREP Act declaration permitting qualified pharmacists to order and administer therapeutics for prophylaxis or treatment of COVID-19. Simultaneously, we worked closely with our members to provide state-level resources and advocacy to advance this important — and potentially life-saving — work.
We couldn’t have been more excited that HHS and the White House recognized the need to support this effort through a PREP Act declaration, ensuring that pharmacists who have the skills, training, and knowledge, and who have proven themselves throughout the COVID-19 response, are able to order and administer monoclonal antibodies to patients in order to prevent the severity of illness, and minimize hospitalizations.
The PREP Act declaration is an important win for patients nationwide, particularly in medically underserved areas where pharmacists can make an immediate impact in expanding access to monoclonal antibodies and potential future COVID-19 therapies when they become available. It’s also a victory for the pharmacy profession, setting additional precedent for pharmacist prescriptive authority and demonstrating the federal government’s support and recognition of the value of pharmacist care.
HHS’s actions represent yet another step toward our goal of full recognition of pharmacists as providers, reinforcing the immense capabilities, clinical expertise, and training of those in the pharmacy profession.
We stand committed to supporting our members and their patients as we work to advance the recognition of pharmacy professionals. Efforts such as these bring even greater recognition to the vital roles pharmacists play as medication therapy experts and help to ensure that all patients have access to the patient care services of pharmacists, which, amid the pandemic, has never been so crucial.
As always, thank you for all that you do for your patients and our profession.
Posted on September 17, 2021