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CovidTests

Drug stores grapple with unpredictable demand for Covid tests

Fluctuations in demand and supply pose procurement and staffing challenges

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of a temporary shortage of over-the-counter rapid tests for Covid-19.

In an advisory issued earlier this month, the CDC said it “recommends the use of laboratory-based testing whenever possible”.

According to an Associated Press report, manufacturers are scrambling to ramp up production of rapid tests after demand, which plunged over the summer, surged along with the spread of the Delta variant.

Pharmacies have apparently been running low or running out of the tests.

CVS has imposed limits on how many tests any one customer can buy in store or online.

Rapid tests, which can be done at home, generate results in just 20 minutes but are less accurate than lab results.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized only a handful of rapid tests, compared with hundreds of laboratory tests.

However, President Biden recently announced the government would purchase 280 million rapid tests and promised to use the Defense Production Act to ensure manufacturers had the raw materials needed to make the tests.

Extra staff

WSYX ABC 6 has reported that pharmacies across Ohio are hiring extra staff to cope with surging demand for Covid-19 tests, vaccines, and newly approved booster shots, as well as, with health experts anticipating a severe flu season, flu shots.

Workers at significant risk of exposure to Covid-19, such as grocery store workers, teachers and nurses, are now eligible for Covid-19 booster shots alongside adults aged 65 and over and those with underlying medical conditions, according to the latest FDA and CDC guidance.

Dr William Moss, head of the International Vaccine Access Center at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CBS MoneyWatch that vaccine providers will have to use their own discretion in interpreting “ambiguous” rules about who qualifies for a booster dose.

Pharmacies are also experiencing booming demand for a drug approved for the treatment of parasites in animals in multiple states, such as Texas and Oklahoma, because of contentious evidence that it might be protective against Covid-19.

Use of Ivermectin, which is not FDA-approved in relation to Covid-19, has been linked to two deaths in New Mexico.

Procurement challenges

Fluctuations in demand for and supply of Covid tests, vaccines and treatments (approved or otherwise) pose a challenge to drug stores when trying to source pharmaceuticals and anticipate the volumes required.

Find a suitable medical manufacturer and there’s an opportunity for boosting revenues and the business’s appeal when it comes to selling up down the line.

Business buyers, meanwhile, will look at the strength and breadth of supplier relationships, and may consider whether facilities are equipped to dispense vaccine shots – although the benefits of doing so for independent pharmacies are debatable.



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