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DCA Authorizes California Pharmacists to Order and Collect Specimens for COVID-19 Until July 11

On May 12, the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued an Order Waiving Restrictions on Pharmacists Ordering and Collecting Specimens for COVID-19 Tests, under the authority of California Governor Newsom’s March 30 Executive Order.

Waiver of Certain Restrictions for Pharmacists

On May 12, the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) issued an Order Waiving Restrictions on Pharmacists Ordering and Collecting Specimens for COVID-19 Tests, under the authority of California Governor Newsom’s March 30 Executive Order.

The waiver authorizes pharmacists to order and collect specimens for COVID-19 tests, under the following conditions:

  1. The Unites States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the test;
  2. The test is processed in a public health, commercial, or clinical laboratory;
  3. The pharmacist is competent and trained to collect the specimen; and
  4. The specimen is collected consistent with an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

The order is effective for 60 days, until July 11, 2020, unless extended further, and it only waives Business and Professions Code Section 4051(b) and 4052(a)(12), to the extent that these provisions (a) limit pharmacists’ ability to order or authorize COVID-19 tests without coordinating with a patient’s primary care provider or diagnosing prescriber, or (b) may prohibit pharmacists from physically collecting specimens to perform such tests. It does not authorize pharmacists to analyze or test specimens, unless otherwise authorized by law.

Guidance Memorandum for Pharmacy Licensees Regarding COVID-19 Testing

DCA, the Department of Public Health (CDPH), and the State Board of Pharmacy developed a guidance memorandum accompanying the COVID-19 testing waiver which further explains the waiver and its limitations. For example, it reiterated that requirements for analyzing and testing of samples, which are enforced by CDPH, are not waived.

Additionally, DCA and the Board of Pharmacy encourage pharmacists to contact laboratories for more information about reporting, handling and transporting specimens, and reimbursement. Further, the memorandum clarifies that during the state of emergency, under the guidelines released by CDPH’s Laboratory Field Services (LFS) on April 8, pharmacists may serve as qualified laboratory testing personnel to perform COVID-19 tests only if they are under the direction of a qualified laboratory director in an appropriately licensed laboratory. 

Licensees interested in ordering, collecting specimens, and performing COVID-19 tests should review the waiver and guidance memorandum, as well as the memorandum’s links to COVID-19 testing resources.

Previous DCA Healthcare Licensing Waivers & Guidance

We previously analyzed other DCA waivers and guidance issued to facilitate the delivery of patient care during the state of emergency. To date, DCA has temporarily adjusted licensing requirements for PAs, NPs, CNMs, pre-licensure nursing programs and students, postgraduate training programs and their enrollees, and various other healthcare professionals.  We will continue to provide updates on DCA’s latest healthcare licensing waivers and other guidance, which are available on the DCA waivers page.

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