Pharmacy's role in emergency preparedness underscored in statement to House subcommittee

ALEXANDRIA — Pharmacies play a critical role in emergency preparedness. That was the key message in a statement issued this week by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores to the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications.

The subcommittee held a hearing this week, titled "Taking Measure of Countermeasures: A Review of Efforts to Protect the Homeland Through Distribution and Dispensing of CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear] Medical Countermeasures."

In the statement, NACDS outlined the ways in which pharmacies are equipped and stand ready to assist policymakers and public health officials at all levels of government in ensuring convenient access to countermeasures in a medically relevant time frame following an emergency.

NACDS discussed pharmacy's role in extending the reach of public health during the aftermath of emergencies, such as Hurricane Katrina and during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. During these types of situations, pharmacists performed a range of services for patients and worked cooperatively with state and local partners to ensure access to high-quality patient care.

"Pharmacists have performed a range of services to targeted patient populations following emergencies, including dispensing countermeasures, administering vaccines, patient screening and triage, education of the public and monitoring for adverse events," NACDS highlighted in the statement. "Pharmacies have existing technological infrastructures that can be leveraged to triage patients, have a lot space to accommodate surges in patient demand and sell personal protective equipment and medical supplies that may also be important in preventing or treating CBRN threats."

"As the face of neighborhood health care, community pharmacies remain committed to assist public health efforts to protect our citizens through convenient access to countermeasures. We look forward to working with Congress and the public health community to ensure the nation's community pharmacies are used to the greatest extent possible," the statement concluded.

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