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Pharmacists Push to Prescribe

Battle emerges between physicians and big drugstore chains moving to let pharmacists prescribe - by Bruce Japsen

THE PHARMACY industry is pushing to allow pharmacists to prescribe more medications as prescription drugs become more specialized and a shortage of primary care physicians threatens quick access to medical care.

But physician groups oppose the push, saying it’s driven by pharmacy chains prioritizing profits over patient safety.

The battle is already playing out in states across the country, including Illinois.

Retail pharmacy giants and operators of specialty pharmacies including CVS Health, Walgreens, Walmart and Amazon already have their pharmacists prescribing certain medications like antivirals used against the coronavirus under special rules implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through a Biden Administration “test to treat” initiative, state-licensed pharmacists have had U.S. approval for the last two years to test patients for COVID-19 and then immediately prescribe a treatment such as an oral antiviral. The idea behind this was to make sure patients could access medications like Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid right away to prevent more deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19.

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