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In March 2020, academic medical center (AMC) pharmacies were compelled to implement practice changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes were described by survey data collected by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program which were interpreted by a multi-institutional team of AMC pharmacists and physician investigators.
The CTSA program surveyed 60 AMC pharmacy departments. The survey included event timing, impact on pharmacy services, and corrective actions taken.
Almost all departments (98.4%) reported at least one disruption. Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) were common (91.5%) as were drug shortages (66.0%). To manage drug shortages, drug prioritization protocols were utilized, new drug supply vendors were identified (79.3%), and onsite compounding was initiated. PPE shortages were managed by incorporating the risk mitigation strategies recommended by FDA and others. Research pharmacists supported new clinical research initiatives at most institutions (84.0%), introduced use of virtual site visits, and shipped investigational drugs directly to patients. Some pharmacies formulated novel investigational products for clinical trial use. Those AMC pharmacies within networked health systems assisted partner rural and inner-city hospitals by sourcing commercial and investigational drugs to alleviate local disease outbreaks and shortages in underserved populations. Pharmacy-based vaccination practice was expanded to include a wider range of pediatric and adult vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic radically altered hospital pharmacy practice. By adopting innovative methods and adapting to regulatory imperatives, pharmacies at CTSA sites played an extremely important role supporting continuity of care and collaborating on critical clinical research initiatives.