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NACDS issues statement regarding OTC COVID-19 tests at retail pharmacies

NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson advises consumers on how pharmacies and their teams are working to help maximize the success of the upcoming COVID-19 OTC test program.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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The National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson issued a statement advising the public on 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,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “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.”  

In addition, Anderson stated that the federal government’s initiative to broaden the availability of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests will require pharmacies and their teams to work in communication with the government and health plan partners to help maximize the success of this program.

[Read more: Biden administration to distribute free masks, purchase additional 500M COVID-19 tests]

“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,” Anderson said. “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.”

Anderson also noted that at the outset of this program, individuals should save their receipts for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests and submit these receipts to their health plan for reimbursement.

“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,” Anderson said. 

[Read more: NACDS receives ASAE's 2021 Power of A Gold award]

“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,” Anderson continued to say. “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.”

Anderson also stated, “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.”

He concluded his statement by stating, “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.”