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Physician Medication Dispensing and the Coronavirus

May 1, 2020

While COVID-19 has affected nearly every business in the United States, the pharmaceutical sector has been particularly impacted. As an essential service, most medical practices are remaining open, and, as such, doctors and other medical practitioners are continuing to dispense.

We at DocRx, are remaining open during this pandemic so that we can supply front-line medical practitioners with the prescription drugs that they need to dispense to patients. We are doing so without compromising our commitment to staff and stakeholders, and have taken all appropriate steps to safeguard our employees, customers, and others involved in our supply chain.

It has become apparent that there are in fact major benefits to the U.S. healthcare system inherent in the practice of physician dispensing (dispensing medication directly to patients at the point of care instead of sending them to the pharmacy to fulfil their prescription).

By dispensing medication in-office, physicians help patients avoid an unnecessary and extra trip to the pharmacy where patients could be infected by the virus or infect others. This benefit is especially acute where patients rely on public transportation or ride-sharing services, since these create additional points of contacts where viruses could potentially spread.

Relatedly, in-office dispensing removes paper prescriptions from the equation, which would otherwise be handled by multiple people and could serve as a conduit for germs to spread. Of course, many pharmacists and physicians have dispensed with the practice of paper prescriptions in favor of e-prescribing and other alternatives, although as of November 2019, only 44% of physicians have the necessary technology and certifications necessary for electronic prescriptions.

Of course, the coronavirus has forced many practices to change, and the practice of point of care dispensing is no exception. The Center for Disease Control advises dispensing facilities (as of April 14th, 2020) to ensure that patients (as well as staff) have access to hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and to dispense medication by putting it on a clear counter or other surface for the patient to pick up as opposed to dispensing the prescription to the patient with hand-to-hand contact.

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