Thursday Miscellany

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Around the country, medical centers have begun setting up clinics focused on evaluating and treating Covid-19 patients reporting symptoms that last weeks or months after their initial illness or diagnosis. But the clinics are relatively new and hospitals are still adding resources, so wait lists can stretch months at the ones that exist so far.”

Healthcare Dive informs us that

Rideshare giant Uber is entering the prescription drug delivery business through a new partnership with on-demand prescription platform NimbleRx, the two companies announced Thursday. The partnership is currently live in Seattle and Dallas, with plans to expand to other parts of the country in the coming months, per a release. Nimble and Uber have completed more than 15,000 deliveries since the pilot launched earlier this summer.

Digital delivery marketplace Nimble, based in Redwood City, Calif., is used by more than 700 pharmacies in 34 states, giving the new partnership significant room to scale. Through an integration with Uber Direct, Uber’s delivery platform, the rideshare behemoth’s fleet of drivers will now be another delivery option for consumers.

It’s a crowded space: Retail pharmacy giants CVS Health and Walgreens have invested heavily in prescription home delivery following Amazon’s acquisition of online pharmacy Pillpack two years ago. Established players and startups alike are vying for a cut of runaway drug spending, while pitching better medication maintenance

CVS Health / Caremark and Express Scripts, among other PBMs, offer programs to allow health plan members to receive mail order pharmacy pricing on 90 day maintenance prescriptions at the pharmacy.

The Centers for Disease Control today released “Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices — United States, 2020–21 Influenza Season.”

Routine annual influenza vaccination of all persons aged ≥6 months who do not have contraindications continues to be recommended. No preferential recommendation is made for one influenza vaccine product over another for persons for whom more than one licensed, recommended, and appropriate product is available.

Balancing considerations regarding the unpredictability of timing of onset of the influenza season and concerns that vaccine-induced immunity might wane over the course of a season, vaccination is recommended to be offered by the end of October [2020].

Efforts should be structured to optimize vaccination coverage before influenza activity in the community begins. Vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating and unexpired vaccine is available.

In the same vein, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced yesterday the issuance of a “third amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to increase access to lifesaving childhood vaccines and decrease the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks as children across the United States return to daycare, preschool and school. ‘Today’s action means easier access to lifesaving vaccines for our children, as we seek to ensure immunization rates remain high during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The amendment authorizes State-licensed pharmacists (and pharmacy interns acting under their supervision to administer vaccines, if the pharmacy intern is licensed or registered by his or her State board of pharmacy) to order and administer vaccines to individuals ages three through 18 years, subject to several requirements” described in the announcement. Pharmacies have become a convenient administration point for many vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine.

Health Payer Intelligence reminds us that “Although the interoperability rule will not be implemented until mid-2021, payers can be aware of what to expect regarding how this rule will change their processes, as outlined in a recent AHIP brief.” The rule generally applies to plans regulated by HHS. While FEHB plans are not subject to the rule, they can benefit from riding in the slip stream by benefitting from interoperability innovations, such as HL7’s FHIR API standard.

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