The White House announced the launch of the first federally supported test-to-treat site, a part of the White House test-to-treat initiative designed to improve access to COVID-19 antiviral oral medications for certain high-risk patients. In response, ASHP sent a letter to Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator, requesting the administration dramatically expand access to COVID-19 antivirals in all communities by removing the federal barrier preventing pharmacists from initiating therapy with these time-sensitive medications.
At present, the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 oral antivirals limits prescribing of these medications to doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Consequently, patients who test positive for COVID-19 at a pharmacy can access time-sensitive oral antivirals on the spot from only a limited number of pharmacies with in-house access to non-pharmacist prescribers. Absent removal of the EUA prescribing barrier, patients that lack access to a pharmacy with an in-house prescriber, particularly in rural and underserved areas, will be unlikely to benefit from the test-to-treat program.
“We’re supportive of the test-to-treat concept but preventing pharmacists from initiating COVID-19 antiviral therapy blunts its true potential,” said Tom Kraus, ASHP vice president of government relations. “To truly ensure access for the most people, pharmacists should be able to provide a COVID-19 test and then initiate treatment immediately, rather than forcing patients to jump through hoops to get a prescription from another clinician during the very short treatment efficacy window.”
ASHP has raised the EUA limitation with the administration repeatedly, and we will continue to work closely with our partner organizations to push for the broadest possible COVID-19 treatment access for our patients and communities.