Pharmacies Scrambling for At-Home Tests, Survey Shows

Surging demand for tests outstripping supply, say community pharmacists

NCPA January 20, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 20, 2022) –  Pharmacists across the country are having a difficult time keeping up with the surging demand for at-home COVID-19 tests, according to a new survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

“COVID-19 has caused shortages throughout the economy, but this is acute,” said NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA. “Community pharmacists are the first line of defense against the virus. Testing is a key to getting everyone back at work and back in school, and right now the supply just isn’t there.”

NCPA recently surveyed roughly 8,000 pharmacy owners and managers to get a fix on what news headlines have suggested for weeks. The result: 92.7 percent say they are having a tough time sourcing enough at-home COVID-19 tests to meet the crushing demand.

“We knew the shortage was serious based on what we’ve been hearing from our members and from the headlines,” said Hoey. “But this puts an exclamation point on the problem. More than nine in 10 pharmacists say they can’t find enough tests for their patients.”

This week the federal government announced that Americans can order tests through a government website and have them delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. That came on top of an administration announcement last week requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of over the counter, at-home COVID-19 tests or allow patients to submit a receipt for reimbursement. Supplies are being rationed, however, and it can take weeks for people to receive their orders. The demand for tests is sky-high largely because of protocols established by public and private employers, schools and colleges, and even restaurants and bars in some cities that require some patrons to present a negative test.

“Everyone is trying to do the right thing, and there’s not enough supply right now,” said Hoey. Roughly 43 percent of community pharmacies are performing COVID-19 tests. Among those, the survey finds, more than 26 percent say they are having a difficult time getting the testing supplies they need.

Almost 90 percent of community pharmacists say the demand for COVID-19 tests is higher than it was last November when the delta strain was spreading across the country.

“This is much more contagious variant, and while it may be milder than previous strains, it is affecting many more people, and that is driving the demand,” said Hoey. “Community pharmacists have been on the front lines since the beginning, and they will continue fighting for their patients and their communities until we turn the tide.”


Founded in 1898, the National Community Pharmacists Association is the voice for the community pharmacist, representing nearly 19,400 pharmacies that employ approximately 215,000 individuals nationwide. Community pharmacies are rooted in the communities where they are located and are among America’s most accessible health care providers. To learn more, visit