Smart-Fill at the Capitol

April 11, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Pharmacists from across the nation will converge in Washington D.C. on April 11 and 12 for the annual NCPA Congressional Pharmacy Summit. It’s a great opportunity to be an advocate for both independent pharmacy and for your patients.

We know the challenges of a prescription delivery market that is so heavily controlled by the PBMs. They determine which pharmacies are included in prescription benefit plans, how much they will be paid, and which drugs will be included in formularies. For independent pharmacies, PBMs are a particular threat: often, they try to persuade insurers to push patients to mail-order pharmacies or to pharmacies owned by the PBM itself—which would seem to be a clear (and actionable) conflict of interest in any other business. Limited networks, typically favoring chains, put patients in rural areas at a disadvantage, sometimes forcing them to drive many miles to access an in-network pharmacy.

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The Weekly Roundup: Advocacy (3.30.18)

March 30, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Two pharmacists from Smart-Fill sister companies Sterling Drug and Sterling Specialty Pharmacy testified last week before the Minnesota House on bills that would increase price transparency for pharmacy patients. Both bills seek to prevent patients from having to pay more than the “lowest allowable cost”: the least of the copay, the allowable claim amount, or the cash price—and not prevent pharmacists from informing their patients of the price differential. Similar legislation is being brought in other states as pharmacists wait for action at the federal level.

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The Weekly Roundup: Insomnia (3.9.18)

March 09, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

A sleep doctor from Virginia Mason Medical Center recently penned a step-by-step guide to curing insomnia—drug-free. Brandon R. Peters, MD, a board-certified neurologist, recommends a combination of education and cognitive behavioral therapies over a six-week program he developed at Stanford, which now runs in the Seattle-based clinic. Sleep research may be particularly important for the elderly.

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The Weekly Roundup: Shingles Patch (3.2.18)

March 02, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

This week, the FDA approved the super-sticky ZTlido, a non-opioid patch for nerve pain. The new product is expected to be a blockbuster at a time when a wide range of non-opioid treatments for chronic pain are highly sought. Sorrento Therapeutics’ ZTlido is expected to deliver relief to shingles patients more effectively than Lidoderm. Here’s a case for transdermal patches as a more effective drug delivery mechanism than oral ingestion—but they are not without their safety concerns

Here are a few other stories that might be of interest:

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The Weekly Roundup: Adherence for Diabetics (2.23.18)

February 23, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Understanding patient barriers to adherence is a key starting point for improving outcomes—particularly for diabetics. Those barriers come in many flavors: access, habit, health literacy, behavioral health issues, even cultural variances in how a patient views health practices and the US health system as a whole. It’s a nagging problem, as is evidenced by the continued relevance of this decade-old list of barriers and strategies for overcoming them. Hosted by Pharmacy Times magazinea panel of care providers studying collaborative care in diabetes management recently came up with this practical suggestion: explain exactly what is in an injectable, how it works, and why it is important. Then, do the first injection with a patient in the office or pharmacy.

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The Weekly Roundup: Supply Chain Challenges (2.16.18)

February 16, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

It’s safe to say that we are all in agreement: this flu season has been wretched. The supply chain for certain drugs, saline solution, and other supplies has been tight across the country following a trifecta of nasty hurricanes. Since early November, the FDA has been actively updating healthcare providers with guidance for managing the acute shortage of such products, including some specific to pharmacies.

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Plan early, plug often: Educating patients about the flu

February 14, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

It’s been another terrible week for the flu nationwide, but it's not too late to encourage flu shots for those who are still not immunized. Reports of a recent increase of influenza A subtype H1N1 and influenza B activity still make flu shots for the remainder of this flu season a safe choice, particularly for those at a high risk for complications from the flu. According to the CDC, 52.3 percent of adults aged 50–64 and 28.5 percent of adults aged 65-plus do not get vaccinated for the flu. In years like this one, where a somewhat lower vaccine strain efficacy is publicized extensively, the pharmacist’s counselling role becomes even more challenging than usual.

As you plan your flu order for the year, it makes sense to think about how you will educate and encourage patients to become vaccinated. When you do, consider the following:

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