This month, the FDA authorized state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid to eligible patients with COVID-19. According to the director for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., this new limited authorization should allow patients to receive treatment faster.
“Since Paxlovid must be taken within five days after symptoms begin, authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid could expand access to timely treatment for some patients who are eligible to receive this drug for the treatment of COVID-19,”
Dr. Cavazzoni said in the FDA’s news release.
Here are three things you need to know about this new authorization.
1. Pharmacists have concerns about capacity and compensation
Generally speaking, pharmacists see this authorization as a significant step forward in expanding access to Paxlovid as well as becoming more widely recognized as medication experts. However, less than a week after the FDA announced the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) update, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) sent a letter to the White House expressing concerns over lack of reimbursement for related consultations and assessments.
“These services, which take roughly 15-30 minutes per patient, are reimbursed for every other prescriber, but not for pharmacists,” the APhA says in their letter. “It is inequitable, unfair, and unreasonable to think that these services can be provided for free by pharmacists. Accordingly, we are writing to urge the Administration to take immediate emergency action to provide direct reimbursement for pharmacists.”
2. Physicians have concerns about care and competition
While many people are celebrating this authorization, there are medical professionals who believe prescribing power is best left to physicians.
“While the majority of COVID-19 positive patients will benefit from Paxlovid, it is not for everyone and prescribing it requires knowledge of a patient’s medical history, as well as clinical monitoring for side effects and follow-up care to determine whether a patient is improving—requirements far beyond a pharmacist’s scope and training,” President of the American Medical Association Jack Resneck, M.D., said in a statement. Additionally, could this authorization lead to pharmacists gaining more prescribing authority – and will that create competition between providers and pharmacists?
3. Expanding access is critical – but the new authorization fails to address a key issue: prescriber capacity
Zipnosis is the most efficient solution to expanding Paxlovid access. We are on a mission to reduce provider work time and help more patients feel better faster. We recently added a new protocol to our virtual care platform that makes it possible to prescribe Paxlovid in just 89 seconds – considering the average appointment takes 18 minutes of provider work time and pharmacists are estimating 15-30 minutes per patient, Zipnosis makes prescribing at least 10 times more efficient.
Our prescription for Paxlovid protocol leverages Zipnosis’ asynchronous telemedicine platform to streamline patient symptom intake, diagnosis, and treatment. The platform’s intelligent adaptive interviews mimic the questions a provider would ask a patient during a consultation – but without the burden of manually collecting data and inputting it into an EMR.
In addition to creating efficiency so providers can diagnose and treat more patients, Zipnosis is also an excellent tool for expanding access to rural, low-income, and Spanish-speaking populations. Why? Asynchronous telemedicine can be accessed anytime-anywhere, and it’s not subject to the same bandwidth limitations as video visits.
On top of that, it’s affordable for patients while being lucrative for providers. If you’re wondering how that’s possible, we explain it all in our definitive Guide to Asynchronous Care. It’s packed with research, data, and case studies – and it’s completely free to download.