ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) President & CEO Steven C. Anderson issued the following statement today to advise Americans in advance of the federal government’s rollout of an effort to enhance the availability of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests:
“Since the earliest days of the pandemic, pharmacies and pharmacy teams have worked with dedication, experience and expertise to keep their doors open and lights on, to meet every-day health and wellness needs, to ramp up COVID-19 testing, to launch and sustain the vaccination effort – including meeting the most recent surge in demand, to prepare for the deployment of COVID-19 antivirals, and much more. Throughout, pharmacies have worked collaboratively with federal, state and local governments to advise them about operational dynamics and public policy needs that must be acknowledged and acted upon to best serve the health needs of Americans during this crisis.
“NACDS consistently has communicated to government, the media, other stakeholders – and ultimately to consumers – about information necessary to enhance their experience in the pursuit of care amid the realities of a global pandemic. For example, with the surge in demand for COVID-19 vaccinations in recent months, NACDS emphasized the importance of making a vaccination appointment rather than pursuing walk-in vaccinations.
“Now, with the imminent launch of a federal government initiative to broaden availability of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, pharmacies and pharmacy teams are working hard within their companies and in communication with the government and health plan partners to help maximize the success of this program. Ultimately, as the face of neighborhood healthcare, pharmacies look forward to serving as a trusted, convenient, and equitable access point for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests – like they are for other needed services and products. As has been the case with other aspects of the pandemic, it is important to inform consumers about steps they can take to enhance their experience.
“At the outset of this program, it is recommended that individuals save their receipts for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests and submit these receipts to their health plan for reimbursement. The short time to implementation has made it difficult for pharmacies to build claim processes with all health plans at this time. It also is important to note that this time of the year always is one of the busiest months for pharmacies, given annual changeover in health plans and the additional administrative activities that pharmacy teams perform for patients. Ultimately, we encourage individuals to contact their employers and health plans ahead of time to learn how over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will be paid for, and whether and how individuals will be reimbursed.
“The fact is that the supply of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will remain limited, and these tests may not be immediately available at every pharmacy. The existing supply of over-the-counter tests has been strained by the Omicron surge. Simply put, communication of ‘free’ over-the-counter COVID-19 tests does not mean they will be ‘freely available’ at the beginning. Consumers should determine whether they need an over-the-counter COVID-19 test at this time, or whether another form of COVID-19 testing may be right for them.
“As NACDS has urged previously, it is important that all consumers treat pharmacists, pharmacy team members, and team members throughout the store with courtesy and respect – they are working hard for the health, wellness, and return-to-normal for all of us.”
More information about NACDS members’ pandemic response is available at NACDS.org/COVID-19.
NACDS represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. Chains operate over 40,000 pharmacies, and NACDS’ over 80 chain member companies include regional chains, with a minimum of four stores, and national companies. Chains employ nearly 3 million individuals, including 155,000 pharmacists. They fill over 3 billion prescriptions yearly, and help patients use medicines correctly and safely, while offering innovative services that improve patient health and healthcare affordability. NACDS members also include more than 900 supplier partners and over 70 international members representing 21 countries. Please visit NACDS.org
Kathleen Bashur, NACDS, 703-837-4367, firstname.lastname@example.org