FAQs: Pharmacy

I have questions about remdesivir. Where can I find more information?

For comprehensive information about remdesivir and its distribution, see the “Treatments” section of our FAQs. (6/4)

Are our pharmacists allowed to order and collect COVID-19 testing specimens? 

Yes, the Department of Consumer Affairs issued a waiver and guidance allowing them to do this if they are competent and trained to collect the specimen necessary to perform the test, and the specimen is collected consistent with the provisions of an Emergency Use Authorization issued by the FDA. This waiver expires on Sept. 9, but the federal government has issued a similar waver that preempts state licensing laws (see CHA’s list of federal waivers). (7/20)

How can pharmacists minimize their risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVD-19? 

CDPH has issued guidance for pharmacies and pharmacy staff to minimize their risk of exposure when serving customers. It includes principles of infection prevention and control,  as well as physical distancing. (5/13)

I am an intern pharmacist. Will the role of my supervising pharmacist change during the COVID-19 state of emergency?

No. Although the Board of Pharmacy had allowed a pharmacist to supervise an additional intern temporarily during the pandemic, that waiver expired on June 24. In addition, the Board’s waiver to allow general rather direct supervision of a pharmacist intern expired on July 19. (7/20)

I am a pharmacist and my sterile compounding competency requirements are due, but I don’t have time to complete them during COVID-19. Is there any accommodation for this?

Under a waiver by the Board of Pharmacy, — which expires August 12 — the semi-annual and annual reassessment, revalidation, or re-evaluation requirements for sterile compounding can be waived for up to an additional 90 days under the following conditions:

  1. The pharmacist-in-charge makes a determination that such a suspension in the reassessment, revalidation, or re-evaluation frequency is necessary and appropriate, balancing site-specific limitations and current staff competencies.
  2. The pharmacist-in-charge ensures only properly trained persons are allowed to perform compounding.
  3. Documentation is maintained identifying when reassessments, revalidations, or re-evaluations pursuant to this waiver were extended for each staff member involved in sterile compounding. Such documentation must be maintained for three years from the date of making. (7/21)

We need to apply for an automated drug delivery system (ADDS) license for several of our automated patient dispensing systems (APDS). We are relocating in our facility due to COVID-19 — do we need a prelicensure inspection?

No, the Board of Pharmacy has authorized a waiver until October 2 of the prelicensure inspection if the pharmacy submits the following:

  1. A description of the proposed ADDS location with pictures, video, and/or a floor plan with the surrounding areas labeled and how the ADDS is secured
  2. A copy of the pharmacy’s policies and procedures to operate the ADDS regarding security, safety, accuracy, accountability, patient confidentiality, maintenance, maintaining the quality, potency and purity of the dangerous drugs and devices, restocking, record keeping, and quality assurance
  3. Proof of training or plans for training pharmacy staff on the policies and procedures at the pharmacy applying for the proposed ADDS location
  4. A statement that a copy of the policies and procedures will be maintained as required by Business and Professions Code section 4427.3(c)
  5. Policies and procedures that include:
    • criteria used to determine which drugs are placed in the APDS
    • methods of ensuring patients are aware that consultation is available;
    • a description of assignments of responsibility
    • training on using the APDS
    • plans for orienting participating patients, ensuring delivery of drugs when the APDS is disabled or malfunctioning, and for handling of complaints, errors, omissions and other incidents with the use of the APDS.
  6. A statement explaining how a written consent from participating patients is obtained and what means are used to identify the patient or patient’s agent before releasing the drug
  7. A statement confirming the APDS has a two-way audio and video for consultation; records are maintained for all transactions; child resistant containers are used; drug warning labels are used for drugs causing risk of overdose, addiction, impairment while operating a vehicle, and risk if alcohol is consumed; a sign is prominently posted on the APDS with the pharmacy’s name, address, and phone number; the prescription label meets the patient-centered labeling requirements; and translation and interpretive services are available. (7/21))

As a pharmacist, I’m concerned that an in-person oral medication consultation may place the requestor, or me, at risk for exposure to COVID-19. What should I do?

If the pharmacist-in-charge makes the determination that a face-to-face consultation will put the patient or pharmacist at risk, then the consultation may be waived (until September 29) following the guidance in the Board of Pharmacy’s waiver instructions. (7/21)

We don’t have the required personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for compounding in a compounding aseptic or compounding aseptic containment isolator. What should we do? 

If the pharmacist-in-charge has made the determination that there is insufficient stock of PPE (everything except sterile gloves), the PPE requirements may be waived (until September 22) under the conditions outlined in the Board of Pharmacy’s waiver instructions. (7/21)

I am a pharmacist and my BLS certification expires on March 15. I need this certification to initiate and administer immunizations.

The Board of Pharmacy has authorized that pharmacists may waive their BLS certification until July 4, 2020, in order to  continue to initiate and administer immunizations.  This order expires August 5. (7/21)

    We have run out of sterile disinfecting agents to wipe down our work table surfaces, carts, and counters after cleaning. What can we do?

    Although the Board of Pharmacy had issued a statewide waiver of the requirement to use sterile alcohol-based disinfectant on certain surfaces after cleaning, that waiver expired on July 1. A pharmacy that has run out of sterile disinfecting agent should contact the Board of Pharmacy for an individual waiver. (7/20)

    I am a retired pharmacist, and my pharmacy license has expired. Can I practice?

    If you have retired within the past five years, and at the time of cancellation or transition to retired status your license was not subject to any disciplinary conditions or proceedings, you may apply — until October 1 — by completing the “Application to Restore Your License” at, located under COVID-19 Information. (7/21)

    Are there any accommodations for pharmacy staffing during the COVID-19 emergency?

    No. The Board of Pharmacy had issued a statewide waiver to allow a pharmacist to supervise an additional pharmacy intern or technicians temporarily during the pandemic. However, that waiver expired on June 24. A pharmacy that would like its pharmacists to supervise an additional intern or technician should contact the Board of Pharmacy for an individual waiver. (7/20)