NABP Supports Boards of Pharmacy to Expedite Emergency Licensure for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians

NABP is assisting its member boards of pharmacy in expediting emergency and temporary licensure requests for licensed pharmacists and pharmacy technicians through its new program, NABP Passport. Developed in response to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), NABP Passport facilitates temporary authorization for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to practice in another state.

Read more in the full press release, published to the NABP website.

Trump Administration Now Predicts Up to 240,000 COVID-19 Fatalities in US

As COVID-19 infection rates continue to surge in multiple states, the Trump administration has extended its social distancing guidelines through April 30, 2020. The administration is now projecting up to 240,000 American casualties during the epidemic.

Meanwhile, federal agencies continue efforts to support health care providers and other stakeholders as they continue to fight COVID-19.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted information on shortages of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to its drug shortages web page.
  • FDA has created a Coronavirus Treatment Acceleration Program to expedite development of possible COVID-19 therapies.
  • Drug Enforcement Administration has issued guidance stating that oral Schedule II prescriptions (ie, those issued by telephone call or other oral forms of communication) may be dispensed under certain conditions.

Daily updates on the spread of the virus, including a state-by-state breakdown of known infections and fatalities, are available from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International information is available from World Health Organization.

NABP continues to collect information about how boards of pharmacy are responding to COVID-19 in the Coronavirus Updates section of the NABP website. Pharmacists are also encouraged to check their state board(s) of pharmacy websites for jurisdiction-specific information. Additional resources for pharmacists and other health care providers are available from the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacists’ Guide to Coronavirus.

FDA Requests Removal of All Ranitidine Products Due to NDMA Concerns

FDA is requesting manufacturers to immediately withdraw all ranitidine (Zantac®) products from the market due to concerns related to N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen that may be present in the medications. Of particular concern is FDA’s determination that the NDMA impurities appear to increase over time when stored at higher than room temperatures, which may result in exposure to unacceptable levels. As a result of the withdrawal request, all ranitidine products will not be available for new or existing prescriptions or over-the-counter use inside the United States.

“The FDA is committed to ensuring that the medicines Americans take are safe and effective. We make every effort to investigate potential health risks and provide our recommendations to the public based on the best available science. We didn’t observe unacceptable levels of NDMA in many of the samples that we tested. However, since we don’t know how or for how long the product might have been stored, we decided that it should not be available to consumers and patients unless its quality can be assured,” said Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release. “The FDA will continue our efforts to ensure impurities in other drugs do not exceed acceptable limits so that patients can continue taking medicines without concern.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FDA recommends patients and consumers avoid taking their medications to drug take-back locations, and instead suggests using specific disposal instructions in the medication guide or package insert, or to follow FDA’s recommended steps for safely disposing of medications at home.

Drug Topics Article Highlights Steps Pharmacies Are Taking to Protect Staff From COVID-19

As essential workers, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be concerned about their possible exposure to the virus and what their employers are doing to help protect them from the disease. According to a recent article in Drug Topics, some retailers are installing plexiglass partitions, sneeze guards, and social distancing decals for customers to help protect their staff. Some retailers have also announced that they will be screening employees, including pharmacy staff, for signs of fever and sending those who show signs of infection home with pay. However, some pharmacy staff say they are unable to access proper personal protective equipment, and express fears that they are vulnerable to COVID-19.

Community Pharmacist Project Shows Significant Increase in Number of Adult Vaccinations

A supermarket chain pharmacy using patient-centered interventions to encourage adults to get vaccinated helped to improve the number of vaccinations issued by 33% compared to the previous year, new research published in the February 21, 2020 issue of Vaccine has found. Nearly 100 chain pharmacies in western Pennsylvania participated in the project, which involved either a vaccine message printed on a patient’s prescription receipt or a patient list generated through commercially-available software listing patient contact information and which vaccines they were eligible to receive. Pharmacy staff used the information to discuss vaccinations with the patients, either in face-to-face or telephone conversations. The 33% overall increase in vaccines included a 45% increase for influenza vaccines, 31% for pertussis, and 7% for pneumococcal vaccinations. There was also a 5% decrease in herpes zoster vaccinations.