36.5 C
Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Continuous Role Of Pharmacy In COVID-19 Prevention And Treatment

To say that the pharmacy’s role in curbing the COVID-19 pandemic is important is an understatement, at least from a numbers perspective. According to the latest statistics, of the 600-plus-million vaccine doses given in the U.S., 276 million were delivered by pharmacies via the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program (FRPP). In short, that’s two out of five COVID shots.

Even when the worst is over, it’s no reason for the pharmacy’s significance to scale back. Pharmacists and pharmacy retailers have talked about how their role in providing adequate healthcare has expanded beyond selling or compounding medications. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the responsibilities they can undertake in the future, pandemic notwithstanding.

Basic Healthcare Checks

Many people remain unaware that pharmacists are trained to take blood pressure and interpret readings from medical devices such as glucometers, among other things. Such skills, for all intents and purposes, reduce the need to visit a doctor, especially if a health condition hardly warrants their intervention.

This is good news, as the community pharmacy is usually the first point of contact for most Americans. A doctor in a clinic or hospital isn’t necessarily available 24/7, but a pharmacy is an essential service for its sale of prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supply of virtual rapid antigen tests in Canada. It also helps that most Americans live within a few miles of a pharmacy, reducing the travel burden on the patient.

Supply Chain Management

The healthcare system was under tremendous strain during the first year of the COVID pandemic. Nearly everything it needed to curb the virus’s spread was in short supply, from critical drugs to sterile and non-sterile medical equipment. Such shortages hampered mitigation efforts, and the government is now eager to be more prepared for the next health crisis.

Pharmacies committed to the industry, particularly outsourcing facilities, responded by augmenting the existing supply with their own production lots of medical resources. It took away some pressure on the traditional manufacturers who struggled to meet demand amid quarantine and other business limitations.

Outsourcing facilities are classified as pharmacies under Section 503B of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. They’re compounding pharmacies, facilities that create bespoke medication on the spot, but are eligible to mass-produce medical products. 

Medication Therapy Management (MTM)

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act gave pharmacies prescribing authority over several COVID countermeasure drugs. It means, contrary to the pre-pandemic setting, pharmacies can now prescribe certain medications like nirmatrelvir or ritonavir, subject to limitations. Regardless, a doctor’s prescription is still required for drugs not covered under the PREP Act.

That being the case, a doctor’s prescription isn’t perfect. Sometimes, the medication might counteract the effects of a patient’s existing medication regimen or be too costly. A pharmacist can coordinate with the prescribing doctor and recommend an alternative.

Pharmacies have performed such duties under MTM, providing patients with the best possible treatment. Multiple studies found that their insights and intervention succeeded in ‘deprescribing’ medications with high degrees of risk. 

Patient Education

Patient education

The pharmacist is the last medical professional patients interact with before starting their prescriptions. It falls on them to clarify to patients the proper use of the medication, if not to suggest less risky or costly alternatives. With future health risks more uncertain due to COVID, medical professionals can’t stress the importance of patient education.

Over the decades, multiple studies have proven that the pharmacy is a reliable addition to the patient education process. Both pharmacists and doctors relay instructions for a medication’s use to patients, but evidence suggests that the former are more detailed in their instructions. As pharmacy is the science of preparing and dispensing medications, pharmacists naturally know their active ingredients and side effects.

Direct Patient Care

Research by Columbia University last January revealed an encouraging trend: pharmacists shifting from transactional to direct patient care. By 2030, the study reported, there would be more pharmacies, mainly in hospital and ambulatory settings, with the skills and equipment necessary to perform a more hands-on approach to patient care.

Not that it would be anything new, as their role in administering COVID vaccines suggest. Pharmacies have been doing this since the late 1990s with the American Pharmacists Association’s first federally-recognized vaccine delivery program. The future pharmacy will see it move further up front in managing specific diseases.

Until that day arrives, pharmacists must continue honing their craft and modernizing their facilities. A more tech-driven pharmacy can minimize human error in various tasks, from handling patient data to dispensing the correct dosage. This leads to safer and more effective treatments.


It should be noted that the expansion of the pharmacy’s responsibilities in a post-pandemic healthcare setting doesn’t imply that physicians will become irrelevant soon. There are still plenty of things that a pharmacist is neither licensed nor trained to do, such as surgeries. Instead, it’s better to think of their expansion as augmenting a healthcare system that has struggled throughout the pandemic.

Read Also

  • Clinical Supplies: What Equipment to Have in a Medical Clinic
    Have you earned your medical degree from a reputable university? Are you thinking about the supplies that you need to start your own medical practice? Starting a new medical clinic is no easy task. Not only do you need certification from a clinical institution. You also need to invest in clinical supplies for running your … Read more
  • Improving Patient Comfort Using Interactive Digital Signage
    For any healthcare provider, patient or client satisfaction is increasingly important. Far more vital than many who own these types of businesses realize. Recently, the RepuGen Patient Review Survey 2021, found that 3 in 4 patients prefer healthcare providers with a minimum star rating of 4 or more. So, clinics, hospitals, spas, dentists, and other … Read more
  • PCOS: An In-Depth Clinical Guide for Healthcare Providers
    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries. PCOS is associated with a range of health complications, including infertility, metabolic dysfunction, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Given the complexity of … Read more
  • How Factors Like Medical Degrees, Experience and More Impact Doctor Loan Eligibility
    Setting up or expanding your medical practice, buying new equipment, or renovating your clinic requires access to funds. To finance these expenses, you can opt for a doctor loan specifically designed for the needs of healthcare professionals. However, it is essential to note that your qualifications and experience are a vital requirement if you wish … Read more
  • Tips to Donate to Charity as a Healthcare Business
    As a healthcare business owner, you might be conscious about doing good and helping others, especially those who are ill or in need. However, amid the daily running of your company and all the pressures that this can put on you, it can be difficult to find ways to donate to and support charities near … Read more
HBC Editors
HBC Editorshttp://www.healthcarebusinessclub.com
HBC editors are a group of healthcare business professionals from diversified backgrounds. At HBC, we present the latest business news, tips, trending topics, interviews in healthcare business field, HBC editors are expanding day by day to cover most of the topics in the middle east and Africa, and other international regions.

Related Articles

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get notified about our latest news and articles. We are not spammy, we promise.

Latest Articles