The White House is announcing new actions to make COVID-19 treatments even easier to access and to make sure healthcare providers and patients know about their safety, efficacy, and availability.
These actions will help strengthen and further build the infrastructure to ensure that lifesaving treatments for COVID-19 are quickly distributed around the country, widely available, and easy to access. At the same time, ensuring that this remains the case—and securing more and even better treatments—will require additional funding from Congress.
Nearly doubling the number of places oral antivirals are available in the coming weeks.
Right now, oral antivirals are available in about 20,000 locations across the country—including pharmacies, community health centers, hospitals, urgent care centers, and Veterans Affairs clinics, and Department of Defense Medical Treatment Facilities. Now that the United States has ample supply of these treatments, the Administration is making it easier for pharmacies to order antivirals from the federal government. Starting this week, the Administration will allow all pharmacy partners in the federal antiviral pharmacy program—tens of thousands of pharmacy locations nationwide—to order free oral antiviral treatments directly from the federal government. Pharmacies will also continue to be able to receive treatments from state and territorial health departments and through the Test-to-Treat initiative. For many Americans, pharmacies are the most common and convenient place to pick up their prescriptions and receive other forms of healthcare. Opening ordering to all of these pharmacies will dramatically expand the number of local pharmacies with oral antivirals in stock for patients in their community. The Administration expects that oral antivirals will soon be available in more than 30,000 locations. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will work with pharmacy partners to increase availability even further to up to 40,000 sites over the coming weeks—bringing these treatments closer to more Americans.
Launching a new effort to stand up federally-supported Test-to-Treat sites.
Building on the current 2,200 Test-to-Treat sites in pharmacies and other clinical settings, the federal government will work with states and jurisdictions to establish additional Test-to-Treat locations with federal support. These sites will co-locate testing, an assessment from a medical provider, and oral antiviral treatments in one convenient stop—launching in partnership with state, Tribal, and territorial governments, and with support and coordination from HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These sites will launch in select communities in the coming weeks and, as more data comes in, the Administration will determine how federally-supported sites can best be expanded and scaled if needed during any potential future surge in cases. These sites will be targeted to meet demand and increase equitable access to lifesaving COVID-19 treatments and will function in direct collaboration with state and local health agencies. The Administration will also continue working with existing Test-to-Treat pharmacy partners to improve the patient experience, including through telehealth options.
Supporting medical providers with more guidance and tools to understand and prescribe treatments.
It is critical that healthcare providers stay informed about the latest information on effective COVID-19 treatments—including their benefits, contraindications, drug-to-drug interactions, and other side effects—so that they are in a position to quickly prescribe one of these treatments where appropriate. The Administration has been working for months with healthcare providers around the country to inform them about new treatments, with weekly webinars with state and territorial health officials, healthcare and medical organizations, as well as biweekly clinical webinars with healthcare providers, including those who specialize in treating high-risk patients. The Administration will continue to engage the clinical community to broaden awareness and understanding of these treatments and to make sure that healthcare providers are counseling their patients about these effective treatments, prescribing them when appropriate, and helping patients identify where their prescription can be filled. This includes providing toolkits and resources to help doctors assess whether treatments are appropriate for their patients and additional guidance and outreach to every state, pharmacy chain, and major medical association to increase awareness around eligibility, accessibility, contraindications and prescribing considerations for COVID-19 treatments. To that end, just yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Alert Network health advisory to its extensive network of public health officials to provide additional information about the efficacy and availability of these treatments. Building on its ongoing work with electronic health record companies to develop and disseminate information about COVID-19 treatments to providers, the Administration is also calling on these companies to incorporate information about oral antivirals directly into their health records interface. This would make it easier to prompt doctors with information about treatments and locations when interacting with a patient—helping to better integrate the prescription of oral antivirals to patients that need them into doctors’ everyday practice.