NACDS Considerations for COVID-19 Vaccinations Transitioning to Commercial

On June 23, 2022, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) sent recommendations to the Biden Administration for the expected transition from government-funded COVID-19 vaccinations to commercially available vaccinations. They outlined five key points.

  1. Engage all stakeholders in transparent planning with a clear timeline. This would include regular meetings with stakeholders and the federal government. Also, plan to transition during a time that would not be as busy for pharmacies handling vaccines (NACDS recommends the first quarter of 2023).
  1. Work closely with manufacturers, supply chain entities, and other stakeholders to support product availability and meet expected demand. This would include evaluating stability, storage, cold chain, and shipping. This should also include preparing for the return of EUA product before commercial transition. The administration should promote prefilled syringes and packaging options to avoid waste and ensure different NDCs are assigned to commercial and government products.
  1. Promote cost-based reimbursement and beneficiary coverage, support long term sustainability and access to COVID-19 vaccinations, and clarify future data reporting requirements.
  1. Plan for a public information campaign to educate the public about the transition to the commercial market. This is intended to keep patients informed of changes and challenges they may face in the future.
  1. Look ahead and proactively plan for the transition of COVID-19 testing and therapeutics to the commercial market so that patients have access and care throughout this transition.

Current COVID-19 vaccines come in multi-dose vials, and stability limitations lead to discarding waste when single or infrequent doses are needed during times of low demand.  Prefilled syringes could help to avoid waste and clarify initial vs. booster dosing confusion. At this time, most pharmacies are not thinking about the cost of the lost vaccine because the government purchased the vaccines. Cost will become more important with the move to commercial access. Pharmacies will not tolerate the cost associated with waste and discarded vaccines.

A public education campaign is important to assist with the transition. The change from patients receiving a vaccine for free with minimal limitations to patients and providers navigating health insurance coverage rules could decrease immunization initiation or completion and increase patient dissatisfaction. Vaccine manufacturers will succeed with single-use packaging, planning, coordination, and communication with all stakeholders. What issues do you expect for the transition of COVID-19 vaccines from government procured to commercial status?

 

Published: August 2022

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