Important pharmacy news and late-breaking industry information updated daily.

On March 25, APhA, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA), responded to the brief that the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the association that represents PBMs, filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Rutledge v PCMA.

There is scant evidence that chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine, alone or in combination with azithromycin, are effective treatments for COVID-19—but in the face of uncertainty and encouragement from President Trump, many health professionals have seized on their use. As pharmacies across the country have been flooded with fill requests for the drugs, troubling pharmacists and potentially contributing to shortages, pharmacy, medical groups, and state boards have taken a stand against the phenomenon.

Stay-at-home orders and other social distancing measures are contributing to rapid drops in the numbers of fevers recorded in states across the country, according to new data from the medical technology firm Kinsa Health. At least 248 million Americans in at least 29 states have been told to stay at home.

No one knows what COVID-19 will do to the future of international supply chain and to drug manufacturing. Allowing Americans to keep large quantities of their prescription medications could even cause shortages of some drugs. But the DEA’s current concern is making sure Americans have access to their necessary medications while the country practices social distancing.

[Update: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the coronavirus bill. More to come.]

Despite intense lobbying by a coalition of pharmacy stakeholders, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, passed a coronavirus legislative package that did not include pharmacist provider status language. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the third legislative package in response to COVID-19, is aimed at mitigating the economic effects of the pandemic. The pharmacy stakeholder coalition will continue working toward inclusion of language that recognizes pharmacists and their services in Medicare Part B in future coronavirus legislation and ultimately makes that recognition permanent.

CVS Health and Express Scripts are putting in place measures to prevent hoarding of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and other treatments being tried against the new coronavirus. Walgreens Boots Alliance has placed limits on prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine and the related malaria treatment chloroquine.

On March 22, FDA issued new guidance on required testing for the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program. Although all REMS requirements remain in effect, the agency said it will not take enforcement action against health care providers or sponsors for failing to adhere to REMS requirements for certain laboratory testing or imaging studies during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

In a recent study published in Circulation, researchers found that one in eight patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) in the United States did not adhere to their medications because of cost.

CVS Health and Walmart are among about a dozen large companies looking to hire nearly 500,000 Americans in coming weeks as they manage a surge in demand for household products. "There are too many customers for our staffing to handle most of the time," said Cody Clark, who works at Brookshire's Food & Pharmacy in Tyler, TX.