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March 17, 2021

ASHP Marks 1-Year Anniversary of Pandemic with Efforts to Combat Vaccine Hesitancy

Dear Colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

One year ago, the World Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Throughout the ensuing 12 months, our members have consistently stepped forward with relentless perseverance and dedication to provide exceptional patient care on the front lines, often facing immense challenges posed by evolving conditions and uncertain outcomes. ASHP staff, working remotely from home and without missing a beat, supported our members and all healthcare providers by developing evidence-based resources and tools to identify solutions and share knowledge to improve patient care.

Today, we stand confident knowing that we have three vaccine options authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, offering a real sense of hope that the U.S. population could reach herd immunity if efforts to vaccinate the population continue and the demand for the vaccines remains high.

On Friday, ASHP issued a strong statement urging the widespread use and equitable allocation of all three vaccines, based on a review of the scientific evidence available. ASHP also published two new resources to help individuals counter myths about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and provide information on optimal settings for using each of the authorized vaccines.

These new resources are just the latest offerings from ASHP, which has been a leader since the outset of this global health crisis, providing needed information, networking, and resources to support our members and all healthcare professionals address the impact of the pandemic and plan for short- and long-term recovery efforts.

ASHP’s efforts demonstrate our ongoing commitment to supporting our members and their patients and also signal just how far we have come in our fight against this virus. In the early days of the pandemic, the need for pharmacist engagement on the front lines of care quickly became clear as healthcare professionals struggled to manage shortages of drugs and medical supplies. There was a need for clarity about potential treatments for COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies, corticosteroids, and other medications. One of the first resources we created in March 2020 was ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Related Treatments to help practitioners better understand proposed treatments for COVID-19. This free resource, which continues to be updated at least twice monthly, has been downloaded more than 56,800 times since its initial publication.

The evidence table was just one of ASHP’s many resources that were made open access and free to any healthcare professional who needed it during the spring and summer months of 2020. Others included ASHP’s Critical Care Board Certification Resources, access to our AHFS drug database, and more. Through these actions, ASHP made an enormous amount of educational materials and resources available free of charge to support our collective national response to the pandemic.

Real-time knowledge-sharing was and still is a top priority today. We knew that it was critical for pharmacists in early surge cities to share what they learned to help prepare their colleagues across the country for the inevitable patient surges in their communities and states. To share information as quickly as possible, we developed a free ongoing webinar series dedicated to COVID-19, which continues to provide valuable perspective and intelligence on how pharmacists are responding to the pandemic.

We have held 53 webinars so far, with more than 24,000 total attendees. We have also used our popular @ASHPOfficial podcast to share critical information about COVID-19. Since last March, ASHP has produced 81 episodes dedicated to the pandemic with more than 81,400 downloads. In addition to being featured in webinars, ASHP news articles, and ASHP podcasts, our members and ASHP staff have served as expert sources in the media with coverage in more than 3,900 COVID-19 stories generating in excess of 7 billion media impressions.

Communication among pharmacy professionals and other healthcare providers continues to be a crucial element in fighting this pandemic. Our COVID-19 Connect Community, open to ASHP members and free to all healthcare providers, now has more than 77,500 users with more than 2,300 unique discussion threads. This remains a very active resource where users can ask questions, receive answers, share experiences, post guidance, receive updates, and learn best practices to support patients and each other.

These examples are only a handful of ways ASHP continues to support our members during this ongoing health crisis. The full scope of ASHP’s COVID-19 response is highlighted in an infographic.

Today, countless ASHP members are leading and participating in a historic national vaccination effort that centers on vaccines that did not exist a year ago. As trusted members of the healthcare community, pharmacists are working with patients to overcome vaccine hesitancy and misinformation issues. We believe pharmacists, who are among the most trusted professionals in the U.S., have and will continue to play an instrumental role in supporting our communities through these challenging times. To this end, ASHP recently introduced a Change.org petition calling on the White House to ensure pharmacy professionals are represented in the administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force. We believe representation on this task force by a qualified pharmacist will be critical to addressing the persistent health inequities in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. The accessibility and expertise of pharmacists make them an asset and essential source of information for the public, particularly in medically underserved areas.

If you haven’t already, please sign the petition to add your voice to the cause. If you’ve already signed, please consider sharing it with friends and family and across social media using #PharmacyFrontline.

Reflecting on this tumultuous year, we will never forget the lives lost and the toll this pandemic has taken on our families and colleagues. We will also never forget the bravery, kindness, and unyielding dedication of pharmacy professionals serving on the front lines. I invite you to view this video where some of our members reflect on their most poignant moments from the last year.

As the vaccine rollout continues and pharmacists continue to play vital roles in the effort, ASHP, as always, remains dedicated to supporting our members. One year in, these remain stressful and unpredictable times, and we are all susceptible to burnout. It is critically important that healthcare professionals on the front lines take a moment to check in with themselves, colleagues, and loved ones. ASHP is proud to offer many resources on our website to help individuals recognize burnout symptoms and practice self-care techniques.

We are so very proud of the resilience and fortitude of the pharmacy community. While 2021 promises progress and hopefully a return to some level of normalcy, we know that there remains much important work ahead. I can’t thank you enough for your ongoing support of ASHP and all that you do for your patients and our profession.

Sincerely,

Paul

April 24, 2020

New ASHP COVID-19 Updates

Dear Colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC CONTINUES to cause immense challenges across our nation. Today, I want to acknowledge the difficult situation facing many hospitals and health systems as a result of disruptions in routine or elective procedures and reductions in inpatient hospital stays. Of particular concern is the impact this situation is having on residency training.

Educating future generations of pharmacists is more critical than ever, and ASHP stands ready to support you in this time of need, including seeking ways to maximize the flexibility of our residency accreditation standards. Resident training is a critical component of pharmacy education, and we are hopeful that organizations will not furlough or terminate their current PGY1 and PGY2 pharmacy residents. Doing so could disrupt patient care and make residents ineligible for board certification and professional positions that require postgraduate pharmacy residency training. ASHP encourages accredited programs to adjust learning experiences in ways that give residents sufficient opportunities to complete their program.

We are here to assist you, and I encourage residency programs to reach out to Janet Silvester, vice president of Accreditation Services, or Stephen Ford, director of Residency Accreditation Services, for help. Please also read our guidance on the pandemic’s impact on residency training. We know how difficult things are right now, and ASHP wants to help you and your residents in any way we can.

Real-Time COVID-19 Information and Resources

ASHP continues to develop and disseminate important clinical guidance, real-time information, and lessons learned among pharmacists to help those working in current hot spots and to prepare others for potential patient surges.

Last week, we launched a weekly webinar series to provide information and guidance from your peers on the front lines, including live webinars offered by ASHP Consulting. Today’s live webinar from ASHP Consulting describes how health systems in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan — Beaumont Health, Ascension Michigan, and Henry Ford Health System — are managing supply chain and pharmacy operations during the pandemic. Please look for new webinars each week for an inside look at how pharmacists across the country are responding to the challenging circumstances surrounding this health crisis. Recorded versions of all webinars in ASHP’s COVID-19 webinar series are also available for those who can’t attend the live session.

Our popular daily @ASHPOfficial podcast continues to provide credible information on topics related to COVID-19. We have produced 25 episodes to date, with nearly 13,000 downloads of @ASHPOfficial in the past 30 days. We attribute this remarkable number to members and nonmembers taking a strong interest hearing about first-hand experiences from the front lines. We have listeners in every state in the country, indicating that ASHP members featured in the podcasts are reaching a broad healthcare community. I encourage you to subscribe to @ASHPOfficial to receive this free, timely content packed with valuable information, personal experiences, and lessons learned from your colleagues with direct knowledge of COVID-19.

Our newly enhanced COVID-19 Resource Center is updated often with new and revised tools to assist all healthcare professionals in responding to patient needs across the continuum of care. ASHP’s Assessment of Evidence for COVID-19 Treatments, which has been downloaded more than 16,000 times, is updated at least twice weekly and provides clinical guidance to help frontline practitioners better understand current therapeutic approaches and recommended care for patients with COVID19. I encourage you to visit the Resource Center regularly to ensure you are using ASHP’s most up-to-date tools.

As medication experts, pharmacists are frontline patient care providers and trusted sources of information for patients. One of our most important roles is educating patients about their disease states and how to optimize their medications. This week, we added a special section to SafeMedication.com, ASHP’s consumer-focused website, with information about COVID-19 for patients and their families. The special section features consumer content in key areas, including how to treat mild cases of COVID-19 at home, an explanation of potential treatments for COVID-19, information about cloth face covers, and more. We will continue to enrich the site with pharmacist-written content to provide patients with a timely, accurate, and trustworthy source of information.

ASHP Survey and Advocacy

ASHP continues to survey our members about the latest developments related to essential pharmacy resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE). Our latest survey also addresses the inventory status of intensive care unit (ICU) drugs needed to treat mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients. We found that the ICU drugs with the most critical shortages include cisatracurium, fentanyl, ketamine, vecuronium, and midazolam. The full details of the survey results are available on the COVID-19 Resource Center.

ASHP continues to respond to member feedback by advocating for the increased production and availability of PPE and for solutions to drug shortages resulting from this public health emergency. We were encouraged by this week’s announcement from the Food and Drug Administration about new flexibilities for 503A pharmacies — including those in hospitals and health systems — and recent guidance for 503B outsourcing facilities to support increasing the supply of critical medications. ASHP will work closely with the agency to seek additional flexibilities as needed.

New Products to Meet Your Needs

In closing, while we continue to do everything we can to support you during the COVID-19 response, we remain committed to supporting you throughout all facets of your career. In that spirit, this week, ASHP launched a new Pharmacy Revenue Cycle Management Certificate, our newest self-guided, online certificate program designed to increase knowledge and skills in calculating reimbursement, documentation and billing, Medicare rules and regulations, and more. We know that tools like these are critical as many hospitals and health systems also face severe financial difficulties during this public health emergency. We will continue to develop products and services that will help our members gain important knowledge and meet continuing education needs.

As always, I extend my sincere thanks to you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you are doing for your patients and our profession.

Sincerely,

Paul

 

April 16, 2020

New ASHP Resources and Efforts to Help You Combat COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

ASHP CONTINUES TO WORK ACROSS MULTIPLE FRONTS to help our members and all healthcare professionals to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We have intensified our advocacy efforts and continue to create new and timely resources to ensure that you are prepared to meet the demands of this sustained public health crisis.

Based on concerns expressed by ASHP members who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve had calls with a wide array of industry stakeholders, including wholesalers, about ways to help ensure that providers have the medications they need to treat their patients. Please continue to let us know of challenges you may be facing related to COVID-19, and we will work to do everything we can to help address them at the national level.

To that end, today, we launched a new COVID-19 microsite to better organize our resources and optimize access for those who need them. The microsite features content for pharmacists and other healthcare providers in key areas, including patient care, infection prevention, policy and advocacy, and more. We will continue to enhance the site with new and updated content, which remains open to all professionals who are engaged in the COVID-19 response.

A critical focus of our continued support remains facilitating real-time information sharing among pharmacists, including those in the current epicenters, to help ongoing response efforts and prepare areas where the peak of the pandemic is yet to come.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have accelerated production on our popular @ASHPOfficial podcast, moving to a daily release schedule. We have produced 20 episodes to date dedicated to COVID-19 on topics that include managing drug shortages, evaluating the scientific literature, and ethical considerations. Last week, a member let us know that information from an @ASHPOfficial podcast helped her to change treatment protocols for patients at her long-term care facility, potentially saving many lives. I encourage you to subscribe to @ASHPOfficial to receive this free, timely content that includes credible information, best practices, and important experiences from your peers who are working on the front lines of the pandemic.

We have also recently launched a free webinar series dedicated to COVID-19 response. Tomorrow’s live webinar describes how New York’s Mount Sinai Health System and Montefiore Health System responded to their COVID-19 patient surge, and the coordinated efforts of New York City’s pharmacy leadership to support hospitals and health systems. Please be on the lookout for new webinars each week that will provide valuable perspective and intelligence on how pharmacists in varied settings are responding to the pandemic.

Our COVID-19 Connect Community has become a robust venue for discussion and information sharing among pharmacists. There are more than 52,000 community members actively engaged in 800 different discussion threads covering a range of topics. ASHP is also using this platform to help inform our efforts to develop and deliver crucial resources to assist those on the front lines.

I would also like to make you aware of another new initiative launched this week by ASHP. The Pharmacy Executive Leadership AllianceTM – or PELATM – was created for chief pharmacy officers and multi-hospital system pharmacy executive leaders who face distinct challenges working within highly complex, vertically and horizontally integrated networks and multi-hospital health systems.

PELA will leverage ASHP’s resources for information exchange on issues unique to this executive-level group. PELA participants will gain valuable insights on market trends and innovations for advancing medication use that is always optimal, safe, and effective for all people across our nation’s complex health networks. Key areas of focus will include health-system-wide integration of digital and telehealth, effective enterprise revenue cycle management, strategies for addressing industry disrupters, optimization of horizontal and vertical integration, and new technologies and science. Emerging issues related to COVID-19 business recovery will also be addressed.

Although ASHP has been planning the launch of PELA for some time, the unprecedented demands of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the importance of providing opportunities to connect and share critical information for pharmacy executives. I look forward to sharing more information about this exciting initiative, as well as relevant outputs from the group, with our members in the future.

Finally, I wanted to share some news from the advocacy front. This week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced flexibilities for satellite hospitals or clinics as a result of COVID-19. During the national emergency, DEA will allow a DEA-registered hospital or clinic to handle controlled substances at a satellite hospital or clinic location under the organization’s current registrations. DEA is relaxing limits on the distribution of controlled substances between practitioners. Under the new flexibility, registered practitioners can distribute or dispense more than 5% of their total doses to another registered practitioner without registering as a distributor. Practically speaking, this will better enable health systems and hospitals to get controlled substances where they are most needed. DEA is also allowing distributors to ship controlled substances directly to these satellite hospitals or clinics. This is a significant change for many of our members who use additional satellite hospital and clinic locations to accommodate the large influx of COVID-19 patients presenting for treatment. Having these flexibilities will allow our members to more effectively treat their patients.

I am also pleased to note that, at the urging of ASHP and its members, USP has issued “Operational Considerations for Sterile Compounding During COVID-19 Pandemic,” a new document that supports risk-based enforcement discretion of compounding standards. The document addresses the assignment of beyond-use dates and considerations for certification and recertification of engineering controls, and reinforces CDC recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting a facility when someone is ill.

On Tuesday, ASHP, the American Pharmacists Association, and the National Community Pharmacists Association authored a letter to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer thanking him for recognizing pharmacists as providers of essential patient care services and asking him to support pharmacists’ critical role as frontline healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. ASHP will continue to work with Sen. Schumer and others to recognize the vital patient care role of pharmacists and to support the proposed Heroes Fund legislation that provides premium pay for essential front line workers – including pharmacists – during this current public health crisis, and we will continue our broader efforts to advocate for expanded patient access to pharmacist services.

In closing, please know that we remain committed to supporting you by providing robust, timely, and relevant resources to assist you in your practice, to advocate on your behalf, and to help you focus on your own health and well-being during this ongoing public health emergency.

Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for everything that you do for your patients and our profession.

Sincerely,

Paul

 

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