Clinical Insights: February 23, 2021

    Welcome to RxStrategies’ Clinical Insights, designed to help pharmacy professionals stay up to date on the ever-changing pharmaceutical and pharmacy marketplace. Contact us to learn more.

    New Drug Approval

    No new update.

    New Formulation Approval

    No new update.

    New Indication/Dosage Approval

    Entresto® (sacubitril and valsartan) Tablets – New Approved Indication – February 16, 2021 – Novartis announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following expanded indication for Entresto® (sacubitril/valsartan): to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure in adult patients with chronic heart failure1. Benefits are most clearly evident in patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) below normal1. The label also states LVEF is a variable measure and clinical judgment should be used in deciding whom to treat. <Read More>

    New/Updated Drug Shortage

    February 22, 2021

    February 19, 2021

    February 18, 2021

    February 17, 2021

    February 16, 2021

    New Drug Recall and Safety Alerts

    Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 and 3000 Capsules by – New Voluntary Drug Recall – February 15, 2021 – is voluntarily recalling all lots within expiry of Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 and Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 3000 capsules to the consumer level. This recall has been initiated after an FDA laboratory analysis found the product to contain undeclared sildenafil and/or tadalafil. Sildenafil and tadalafil are ingredients in FDA approved products for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction in the family of drugs known as phosphodiesterase (PDE-5) inhibitors. The presence of sildenafil and/or tadalafil in Adam’s Secret Extra Strength products makes them unapproved new drugs for which the safety and efficacy have not been established and therefore subject to recall. <Read More>

    New Generic/Biosimilar Approval and Launch

    No new update.

    Clinical and Pharmacy News

    NCCN Publishes Guidelines for Pediatric Solid Tumor – February 22, 2021 – The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has issued guidelines for the management of children with a rare type of kidney cancer referred to as Wilms Tumor, or nephroblastoma. The document highlights evidence-based recommendations for how to maximize benefits while minimizing toxicities in this patient population. Notably, the guidance comprises critical information for providers who treat pediatric tumors, hematologic malignancies, and other blood disorders that may be encountered relatively infrequently. The guidelines also contain diagnostic information for primary care pediatricians to ensure that the cancer is identified early and managed in a way that results in fewer toxicities for the patients. <Read More>

    Dashboards Drive Better Medication Management – February 22, 2021 – Two new studies have underscored that clinical dashboards can be a powerful medication management tool—in one case during yet another surge in COVID-19 cases. A real-time clinical dashboard to monitor patients taking tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor drugs could save the Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System at least $302,000 per year and potentially improve medication adherence and patient safety, according to a poster presented at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy 2020 virtual annual meeting. <Read More>

    Machine Learning May Bolster Opioid Stewardship Efforts – February 22, 2021 – Opioid stewardship is most often a multidisciplinary effort, but at Lifespan Health System in Rhode Island, an unusual team “member”—artificial intelligence—is being recognized for its contribution. Employing physician education and machine learning led to significant reductions in prescribed opioid doses, decreases in benzodiazepine co-prescribing, and increased naloxone co-prescribing, as Ashley Rimay, PharmD, a controlled substance pharmacist at Lifespan, said during a virtual poster presentation at the ASHP 2020 Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exposition. <Read More>

    ASCO Partners With American Cancer Society to Recommend Prioritization of COVID-19 Vaccine for Cancer Patients – February 20, 2021 – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is urging state governments to prioritize patients with cancer in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine distribution, according to a press release by the organization. Patients with cancer have a higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19 and are more likely to have a worse outcome. In December 2020, the CDC established nonbinding guidelines for the prioritization of the vaccine and suggested that cancer patients be included in phase 1 distribution. However, states including Colorado and Florida have chosen not to follow the CDC’s recommendations and signaled that patients with cancer will be included on lower-priority tiers. <Read More>

    The Role of the Specialty Pharmacist in Treating Cystic Fibrosis – February 19, 2021 – Cystic fibrosis (CF)—once considered a disease destined to result in childhood mortality—has seen median age of survival jump into the 40s with the advent of new and more effective therapies. These historic advances in the treatment of CF over the last decade have enabled patients to not only live longer but to do so with improved quality of life. Coordination of care and complex treatment regimens can make disease management challenging and overwhelming for patients with CF and their caregivers. Specialty pharmacists can play a vital role in supporting patients and caregivers in the management of CF treatment regimens. <Read More>

    Pharms Well Positioned to Administer HIV PrEP – February 19, 2021 – You don’t have to be an HIV expert to administer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV infection in high-risk populations, said Brandon Patchett, PharmD, the senior director of pharmacy services for the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, during a session at the 2020 NASP Annual Meeting & Expo Virtual Experience. “Pharmacist-administered PrEP programs are becoming more and more common across the country,” Patchett said. <Read More>

    The NICE Draft Guidelines for the Management of Atrial Fibrillation Need Key Revisions – February 19, 2021 – The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) draft guidelines for the management of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) contain recommendations at odds with available scientific data and recently updated guidelines from learned societies worldwide. In our view, the draft guidelines severely limit patient choice and access to appropriate treatments. Good quality rhythm strips, which use modern technology are increasingly available in the home or at work, including hand-held ECG recorders, and can reliably identify AF. NICE’s insistence on a 12-lead ECG to diagnose frequently paroxysmal arrhythmias such as AF is, in our view, unnecessary and imposes avoidable delays that miss opportunities for timely diagnosis and treatments. <Read More>

    Awareness, Education Are Key When Prescribing Generics for Infectious Diseases – February 19, 2021 – Although brand name drugs for infectious diseases are expensive, purchasing some generic options without patent exclusivity also has proved costly for patients. As a result, experts say that increased awareness and education, cost-conscious guidelines, government regulation, and market-level incentives can help ensure access for patients with infectious diseases and help them save money. The United States spent 17.8% of its gross domestic product on health care in 2016 compared with between 8% and 12% in comparable developed countries, according to a recent article in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The authors attributed much of this to high drug costs, which also contribute to a lack of patient adherence. In 2016, 18% of Americans did not fill a prescription because of high drug costs, they said. <Read More>

    Excelera Merger Boosts Health Systems’ SP Stake – February 19, 2021 – The recent merger of ExceleraRx and Shields Health Solutions creates a potent new force in the specialty pharmacy arena, one with enhanced scale to compete with large, traditional specialty pharmacies for access to manufacturers’ limited distribution drugs. “Both Excelera and Shields help their clients knock down barriers to access by facilitating an easy way of collaborating with manufacturers and payors to manage specialty patients,” Troy Polan, Excelera’s acting CEO, told Specialty Pharmacy Continuum. <Read More>

    FDA Blasts Misleading Opioid Promotion – February 19, 2021 – In a highly publicized challenge to unbalanced marketing of an opioid painkiller, FDA issued a public statement and press release, along with a sharp warning letter rebuking AcelRx Pharmaceuticals for its glib and simplistic messaging on painkiller Dsuvia. The admonishment signals FDA’s intent to take strong action against misleading promotion of high-risk medicines, perhaps also seeking to deflect outside criticism of acting commissioner Janet Woodcock for supporting the approval of certain risky pain medicines when the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). <Read More>

    Kroger Reports Data Breach of Some Pharmacy, Internal Records – February 19, 2021 – Kroger confirmed that it was impacted by a data security breach affecting Accellion, Inc., a vendor it used for third-party secure file transfers. “Kroger believes certain associate HR data, certain pharmacy records, and certain money services records have been affected,” the company said on its website. <Read More>

    Study: Increasing Biosimilar Use in RA Requires Greater Disease Management Knowledge – February 18, 2021 – Increased availability of biosimilars for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is expected to result in greater access for patients and earlier treatment in the disease cycle, leading to increased risk of immunosuppression and an increased risk of infection. Therefore, the authors of a review of available evidence argue, it is important to better understand the management of RA to mitigate the risk of overtreatment with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and immunosuppression. “While the contemporary clinical treatment goal is to achieve remission, the ideal immunological treatment goal is to achieve an immune homeostasis, such that the immune system can respond dynamically and appropriately to the environment,” the authors wrote. <Read More>

    Cell, Gene Therapies Are Expected to Rapidly Expand – February 18, 2021 – In the current landscape of approved cell and gene therapies, not many classes of products are available in the United States, said Rebecca Bigler, Ph.D., the chief scientific officer at Therapeutic Genetics Consulting Associates in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy 2020 Annual Meeting & Expo Virtual Experience. However, Bigler said during a session on the state of care for cell and gene therapies that the classes of approved products are expected to expand rapidly in the next few years based on projections in the field. Currently, a small group of products span the classes of gene therapy and cell therapy, Bigler said. This small quantity is due to the generally poorly defined and poorly differentiated nature of these classes of products. <Read More>

    AHCA Briefs House on Pharmacy Benefit Manager Structure, But Routes for Cutting Costs Remain Unclear – February 18, 2021 – The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) met with House lawmakers Thursday, releasing a report in response to recent criticism over the state’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) structure. AHCA Deputy Secretary Beth Kidder spoke to the House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee about the report, prepared by the Milliman actuarial firm. John Meerschaert, an actuary with Milliman, also helped present the report’s findings. PBMs help determine which drugs will be covered by insurance plans. They negotiate on behalf of insurers to secure discounts from drug manufacturers. When a claim is filed, PBMs collect money from those plans, then pass money to pharmacies via different methods. <Read More>

    A Standardized Solution to Better Compounding – February 18, 2021 – By recruiting a team of champions and incorporating new compounding software, AdventHealth in Florida was able to more easily standardize its compounding operations across eight locations in the Orlando area and meet all requirements of USP <797>. The journey to standardization began in 2019, after Richard Montgomery, BSPharm, MBA, the health system’s corporate pharmacy contracts and operations manager, was looking across the enterprise trying to figure out the best way to do this, he explained during a recent webinar. <Read More>

    New Report Shines Spotlight on the Domino Effects of Incomplete Benefits Data at the Point-of-Care – February 18, 2021 – A report entitled “Advancements in ePrescribing: Eligibility and Formulary & Benefit” was published by Point-of-Care Partners (POCP). The report is an in-depth exploration of how incomplete and inaccurate eligibility information and out-of-date formulary and benefit (F&B) files can negatively impact the availability of useful information at the point-of-care. Eligibility is foundational to the presentation of F&B information. It also is the building block for several newer, downstream ePrescribing-related transactions such as Real-Time Benefit Check (RTBC), electronic prior authorization (ePA) and specialty enrollment. These new transactions, when supported by complete and accurate eligibility data, can help improve medication adherence by helping patients avoid unwelcome surprises at the pharmacy while also reducing the manual work and rework for providers and pharmacy staff.  For example, research showed that ePrescribing coupled with eligibility and formulary information increased first-fill medication adherence by 20%. <Read More>

    Alliance of Hospital-Owned Specialty Pharmacies Issues Industry Call to Action – February 18, 2021 –  The Health System Owned Specialty Pharmacy Alliance, or HOSP — an organization formed in October by seven health systems to advocate for health system-owned specialty pharmacies — recently sent an open letter to health systems outlining three actions items it wants the specialty pharmacy industry to take to improve patient care and outcomes. The first is to develop industry benchmarks. “We typically haven’t done a good job as an industry of publicizing the data that showcases our successes that distinguish us from other specialty pharmacies,” Tanya Menchi, the alliance’s executive director, said in an interview with Becker’s. Ms. Menchi said the health system-owned specialty pharmacy industry needs to establish metrics to demonstrate the industry’s value and measure performance to develop industry best practices. <Read More>

    Guidelines Improved Bronchiolitis Care – February 17, 2021 – In 2006 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidance urging providers to not use non-recommended tests and treatments for bronchiolitis. Further guidance in 2014 offered further clarification. An investigation examines whether the guidance led to better outcomes. Bronchiolitis is a common condition of childhood, and the number of nonrecommended tests and treatments have also made it a costly condition. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics released clinical practice guidelines that actively discouraged the used of diagnostic tests and therapies. An investigation in JAMA Network Open offers insight on whether those guidelines altered the use of those non-recommended tests treatments. <Read More>

    Diabetes Drug Significantly Cuts Body Weight in Adults With Obesity – February 17, 2021 – A Phase 3 clinical trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated an average 14.9% decrease in body weight in adults with obesity or overweight who received an injectable diabetes medication, semaglutide, in addition to lifestyle interventions. Approximately 50% of the participants in the semaglutide group achieved significant weight reductions of 15% or more, while 69% of participants achieved 10% or more, and 86% of participants achieved 5% or more. The trial showed reductions in risk factors for diabetes and heart disease and a greater self-reported physical functioning in participants receiving semaglutide. <Read More>

    ACHC/HFAP Merger: An Interview With President and CEO José Domingos – February 17, 2021 – As of Oct. 19, 2020, the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) have merged, marking the first time that two accreditation bodies with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) deeming authority have combined forces. The HFAP will operate as a brand within ACHC, and collectively the organization will be known as ACHC. Specialty Pharmacy Continuum spoke with ACHC President and CEO José Domingos about the merged company and what customers can expect in terms of service and support. <Read More>

    The Impact of COVID-19 on Oncology Pharmacy and Patient Care, Part 1 – February 17, 2021 – The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted the way health care is provided across the globe, and the United States is no exception. The oncology pharmacist plays a vital role in all aspects of the care for patients with cancer. However, most duties performed on a day-to-day basis are within inpatient rounding teams or in clinics with patients and other providers, a workflow that has changed drastically with the uprise of the COVID-19 pandemic. <Read More>

    Patients Receive Wrong Dosage of COVID-19 Vaccine at Massachusetts CVS Pharmacy – February 17, 2021 – Some patients who received their COVID-19 vaccination at a Massachusetts CVS pharmacy earlier this week have been notified that they were inadvertently given a smaller dosage than recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CVS customer who received the coronavirus vaccine Monday at the company’s location in Ipswich was contacted by the pharmacy on Wednesday. The customer, who received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, said a pharmacist contacted her and explained she was given the dosage for the Pfizer vaccine which is less than the Moderna vaccine. CVS admitted to the error in a statement it provided to WCVB. <Read More>

    Pharmacists are Coming to the Rescue – February 17, 2021 – As Pharmacy Times® goes to press this month, there is a lot of encouraging news on the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) front. More than 32 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the United States so far. Meanwhile, President Joseph R. Biden has announced the initial launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for the COVID-19 vaccination, a public-private partnership with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies. New steps will be taken to improve vaccine access, including increasing the supply to states, territories, and tribes, and increasing funding to jurisdictions to help administer vaccines, according to a statement.2 This initiative is intended to help meet the Biden administration’s goal of administering 100 million shots during his first 100 days in office. <Read More>

    AMA Scolded for Seeking Changes in CDC Opioid Guideline – February 17, 2021 – Eight months after the American Medical Association told the CDC that its controversial opioid guideline has “harmed many patients” and needs to be revised, an anti-opioid activist group has accused the AMA of employing false moral arguments to justify using opioid medication to relieve human suffering. The letter from Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) to AMA President Susan Bailey, MD, takes issue with the AMA’s position that the U.S. “no longer has a prescription opioid epidemic” and instead faces an overdose crisis fueled by illicit fentanyl and other street drugs. <Read More>

    New NCCN Guidelines Analyze Evidence for Cancer Type Found Almost Exclusively in Children – February 17, 2021 – The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) published its first-ever treatment guidelines for children with a solid tumor cancer type in the United States. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Wilms Tumor (Nephroblastoma) contain evidence-based expert consensus recommendations for how to maximize benefits and minimize side effects for managing a rare type of kidney cancer that typically occurs in children age eight years or younger. These guidelines contain crucial information, particularly for care providers who treat a full spectrum of pediatric tumors, hematologic malignancies, and other blood disorders (such as Sickle Cell), due to the relative infrequency of all of these conditions. The guidelines also include important diagnostic information for primary care pediatricians to help ensure this cancer is caught early enough to benefit from high curability rates, and managed in a way that reduces side effects. <Read More>

    Experts Discuss Best Practices for Managing VTE – February 17, 2021 – Venous thromboembolism (VTE) can be a serious condition and there are multiple challenges to patient education. Recently, a group of experts in a Pharmacy Times® Practice Pearls video series discussed how to improve education efforts, treatments for hospitalized medical or nonsurgical patients, and VTE prevention. VTE is characterized by the same symptoms as deep venous thrombosis with the addition of pulmonary embolus, said Paul Ament, PharmD, BS Pharm, a clinical pharmacy manager at Excela Health System. Approximately 900,000 cases of VTE are reported each year, and symptoms can include cramping in the calf or thigh and unilateral leg swelling, he said. Some patients may be asymptomatic, leading to the incidental discovery of VTE on a computerized axial tomography scan. The condition is very common, with about 100,000 patients each year dying of VTE-related complications, Ament said. The standard of care is shifting away from enoxaparin and warfarin and toward direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs), said Charles Mahan, PharmD, RPh, PhC, a cardiac critical care clinical pharmacist at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, who hosted the video series. <Read More>

    Biden Administration Already Impacting Drug Prices – February 17, 2021 – The Trump administration issued numerous Executive Orders seeking to rein in drug prices. (See Recent and Possible Executive Orders on Drug Pricing: What You Need to Know – Government Contracts Navigator and Administration Issues Executive Order Tying Medicare Drug Costs to International Prices – Government Contracts Navigator.) While the Executive Orders made for good sound bites, none of them actually impacted drug prices. At the end of the day, most of the Trump administration initiatives never made it to the regulatory rulemaking phase, and those that did were met with legal challenges. Since then, in less than a month since taking office, the Biden administration has issued multiple Executive Orders and memoranda reversing the Trump-era Executive Orders and freezing pending regulations and enforcement policies with respect to existing regulations. Beginning on its first day, the Biden administration took action impacting drug prices and potentially signaled, directly or indirectly, the policies we may see over the next four years. The new administration’s actions have continued at a rapid pace. <Read More>

    Why are We Putting Patients at Greater Risk by Holding Telemedicine Doctors to an Outdated Ordinary Standard of Care? – February 16, 2021 – Everything else in the world has changed, why not how we treat our doctors? If a doctor can only bill for a two-minute telemedicine consultation, why should that doctor be held to the ordinary standard of care? If insurance companies decide how much time doctors can spend with their patients, then why aren’t insurance companies the ones held liable when doctors don’t have enough time to make accurate diagnoses? <Read More>

    CDC’s New (Inconsistent?) Guidance on Quarantining for Fully-Vaccinated Individuals – February 16, 2021 – On February 11, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated materials on its website pertaining to when individuals should quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19. Specifically, on the “When to Quarantine” page on its website, the CDC now states that “[p]eople who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease within the last three months and show no symptoms.” The CDC added similar language to its “When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19” page, stating that “[s]omeone who has been fully vaccinated within the last three months and shows no symptoms of COVID-19” does not need to stay home after having close contact with a person with COVID-19. <Read More>

    ACC to Advance Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Care – February 16, 2021 – The American College of Cardiology has received a grant from Bristol Myers Squibb to address gaps in care and knowledge around hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, one of the most common cardiovascular genetic diseases. The Accelerating Innovation for Medical Excellence in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (AIME HCM) initiative will increase the awareness and understanding of HCM, activate clinicians and optimize disease management to improve outcomes. <Read More>

    Get Advanced Training to Help Patients With Substance Use Disorder – February 16, 2021 – As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic persists, it is important to ensure that individuals who have substance use disorder (SUD) are appropriately treated. Evidence shows that stress, such as that brought on during the COVID-19 pandemic, can lead to an increase in alcohol or substance use. Even before COVID-19, overdose deaths were increasing, with more than 80% involving opioids from January 2019 through June 2019, according to the CDC.2 Evidence also shows that opioid overdoses have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.3 Increasing access to and distribution of the life-saving opioid antagonist naloxone are critical to reverse opioid overdose.4,5 Pharmacists can play an important role in treating patients with SUD and preventing opioid overdoses through education in their practice setting. <Read More>

    Clinical Practice Guidelines Update: SITC Provides Clinicians With Up-to-Date Immunotherapy Recommendations for Lymphoma – February 16, 2021 – Guidelines released by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer are intended to provide clinicians with the most current thinking on how experts can integrate immunotherapy into the treatment of patients with lymphoma. As treatment options continue to expand across numerous disease settings, new practice guidelines were released by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) on the use of immunotherapy in the treatment of lymphoma. The guidelines, published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer, are intended to provide clinicians with the most current thinking on how experts can integrate immunotherapy into lymphoma treatment. “Practicing clinicians have to take care of so many types of cancer, whereas in the old days there were common therapies across the board,” Joshua Brody, MD, director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, explained in an interview with CancerNetwork®. “Now, the therapies are so much better individualized that [it can be] difficult for practicing community oncologists to stay abreast of every update.” <Read More>

    Pharmacist-led Initiatives Save Millions – February 16, 2021 – Launching a diabetes stewardship program, removing IV acetaminophen from the formulary and negotiating more favorable self-insurance contracts were among the recent strategies pharmacists used to save their health systems millions of dollars, as reported at the ASHP 2020 Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exposition. <Read More>

    ASHP publishes reports exploring pharmacy’s role in the future of healthcare delivery – February 16, 2021 – ASHP (American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) announced the publication of two landmark reports that articulate a futuristic vision for pharmacy practice, including expanded roles for the pharmacy enterprise in healthcare organizations. The 2021 ASHP/ASHP Foundation Pharmacy Forecast Report and the Vizient Pharmacy Network High-Value Pharmacy Enterprise (HVPE) framework, published in AJHP, outline opportunities for pharmacy leaders to advance patient-centered care, population health, and the overall well-being of their organizations. <Read More>

    Orsini Specialty Pharmacy Selected to be the Exclusive Specialty Pharmacy Partner for Evkeeza™ (evinacumab-dgnb) – February 16, 2021 – Orsini Specialty Pharmacy, a leader in rare diseases and gene therapies, announced that it has been selected by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as the exclusive specialty pharmacy partner for EvkeezaTM (evinacumab-dgnb). Evkeeza is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an adjunct to other low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) lowering therapies to treat adult and pediatric patients aged 12 years and older with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH). <Read More>

    Pharmacists on the Bleeding Edge of ADE Prevention – February 16, 2021 – Despite the availability of newer agents, anticoagulants continue to be commonly associated with adverse events, speakers said during the ASHP 2020 Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition. Pharmacists have ample opportunities to lead anticoagulation stewardship efforts at their home institutions, potentially improving patient safety and reducing health care costs. <Read More>

    Two-Thirds of Pharmacists Have Taken on New Job Responsibilities Since COVID-19, Survey Finds – February 16, 2021 – More than two-thirds of the 328 pharmacists surveyed by healthcare software company CoverMyMeds said they have taken on new job responsibilities since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The top new responsibilities were patient follow-up calls for refills and adherence, a prescription home delivery program and finding ways to help patients save money. One-third of pharmacists also said they began COVID-19 testing at their pharmacy. <Read More>

    Independent Pharmacies Must Express Their Value to Support Long-term Viability – February 16, 2021 – Across the country, independent community pharmacies are vital resources in areas without many other pharmacies or health care providers accessible to patients. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)’s 2020 NCPA Digest, 77% of community pharmacies provide services to areas with a population of 50,000 people or fewer, and 21% of all US zip codes have only an independent community pharmacy serving that area. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, community pharmacies have been an essential access point for health care services in these communities, especially among rural and medically underserved areas. <Read More>

    The Challenge to Anorexia Nervosa Treatment Guidelines – February 15, 2021 – New analysis published in The Lancet Psychiatry has shown a lack of strong evidence to support current guidance on psychological therapies for treating anorexia nervosa over expert treatment as usual. The findings highlight a need for further research and support a call for individual trial data to be made available so the benefits of treatments in specific patient populations can be better understood. <Read More>

    Small Pharmacies Struggling to Obtain Reimbursement for COVID-19 Vaccine Administration – February 15, 2021 – Across the country, independent community pharmacies are vital resources in areas without many other pharmacies or health care providers accessible to patients. According to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)’s 2020 NCPA Digest, 77% of community pharmacies provide services to areas with a population of 50,000 people or fewer, and 21% of all US zip codes have only an independent community pharmacy serving that area. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, community pharmacies have been an essential access point for health care services in these communities, especially among rural and medically underserved areas. <Read More>

    43% of Patients Say They Check a Pharmacy Comparison App for Prescription Savings – February 15, 2021 – Americans are becoming increasingly curious about ways to lower their prescription drug costs, according to recent survey results released by healthcare software company CoverMyMeds. CoverMyMeds surveyed patients, providers and pharmacists during September and October. One thousand patients, 400 providers and 328 pharmacists participated in the survey,  the results of which were released Jan. 25. <Read More>

    340B in the News

    How ‘White Bagging’ Affects Patients, Physicians and 340B Funding – February 18, 2021 – Having specialty pharmacies fill prescriptions may lower costs, but critics of the practice see safety issues and other drawbacks. In healthcare, one action often begets another. A patient is treated for cancer, resulting in nausea, and then is treated for nausea. Changes in payer policies also can trigger a cascade of events affecting patients, providers and payers in unanticipated ways. An example is “white bagging,” in which a prescription is filled by a third-party specialty pharmacy and then administered by the provider without the provider taking ownership…The white bagging also affects the 340B program, Lausten says. The federal 340B program means providers can get drugs at discounted prices if a substantial fraction of their patients have low incomes, are uninsured, or both. “Those (drug) savings pay for unfunded programs we provide at our hospital,” he says. “When the drug comes through the specialty pharmacy, those 340B savings go away.” But 340B program has plenty of critics, who say it has been distorted by health systems for financial gain. <Read More>

    Federal Judge Dismisses Hospital Groups’ Lawsuit Against HHS Over 340B Drug Feud – February 18, 2021 – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by several hospital groups seeking to get the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to clamp down on drugmakers restricting access to products. Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a ruling Wednesday that hospitals had to use a new dispute resolution process to settle the feud with the drugmakers, which the hospitals cannot sue individually under federal law for 340B violations. But the groups were happy that HHS did blast several drug companies’ moves to restrict access of 340B-discounted pharmaceuticals to contract pharmacies, which are third-party entities that dispense drugs on behalf of the 340B hospital or provider. <Read More>