Force for Change: Q&A With Richard Dang

When the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) convened its COVID-19 Taskforce, it tapped Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy Richard Dang to serve as chair—as he simultaneously gears up to serve as CPhA president in 2021–22. Here, he talks about his vision for leading CPhA, the priorities of the COVID-19 Taskforce and how pharmacists are well-positioned to help beat this national crisis.

What do you hope to achieve during your term as CPhA president?

The profession and association are experiencing significant transitions and challenges. As president, my vision is to serve as a strategic voice for the association and profession. Ultimately, I envision an association that engages with all student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, and that advocates for patient safety, employee protection and sustainable clinical services.

What are CPhA’s goals for the COVID-19 Taskforce?

The taskforce’s primary mission is to serve as a reliable resource and advocate during this crisis. My charge as chair is to assemble and oversee the composition and activity of the taskforce. It was important to build a team that can be adept, nimble and responsive to provide relevant and timely recommendations. I stepped up to this leadership role because I see my colleagues laboring and sacrificing without protections, without acknowledgment and without a voice. I am honored to be working with an incredible group of experts and to speak on behalf of my colleagues.

What do you think the public should know about the ways pharmacists are making a difference in response to COVID-19?

Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and intern pharmacists are frontline providers in the community, pharmacies, clinics and hospitals. Pharmacists work tirelessly to provide access to essential services across the nation. In the face of a public health crisis, and while many businesses are closed, pharmacies remain a crucial access point for patients to receive the expertise of healthcare professionals they know and trust.

On April 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services authorized pharmacists to administer COVID-19 tests. What does this mean for California pharmacists?

It reflects a major acknowledgement of the important role that pharmacists play in public health planning and response to pandemics. This allows pharmacists to practice at the top of their license and fulfill their duties as healthcare providers. Once the authorization is fully implemented, pharmacists will be able to evaluate patients and then send lab orders for COVID-19 testing. This will reduce the need for individuals to go to the hospital or doctor’s office for testing, thus limiting their exposure to those with the disease.

For more information about the CPhA COVID-19 Taskforce and up-to-date guidance, visit