The Weekly Roundup: HIV Care and the Pharmacy (8.24.18)

August 24, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Significant advances in HIV treatment—including understanding and educating the populace about transmission and developing public health approaches to serve high-risk populations—have resulted in a dramatic change in disease progression. From an estimated 130,000 cases annually since reporting began in 1981, significant strides were made initially in addressing the epidemic, and reported cases dropped significantly by 2000. That number has remained fairly stagnant, though, and pharmacists have been called upon to lend a hand. Guidelines for pharmacy’s role in the early-2000s can be found and elaborated on here. But a recent study published in Medicinerevealed that there is a still a long way to go—especially when it comes to improving screening rates. Here are a few tips on how pharmacists can help. Meanwhile, drug makers continue to develop new protocols in the hope that treatment will be easier, more effective, and (elephant in the room) presumably cheaper—eventually.

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

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The Weekly Roundup: Disruptive Business Ideas (8.17.18)

August 17, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Feeling stuck? Inspiration is where you find it. You might enjoy one of my favorite sources for “big ideas” in this podcast series on disruption, a compendium of advice from leaders across multiple industries who have shared ideas that changed the way they did business, how they’ve performed as leaders, or that shifted their view of success. Take this interview with Alison Levine, for example. Levine is a former investment advisor and alpinist who has climbed the highest mountains on seven continents and skied to both the North and South Poles. She knows a little something about risk and reward. Or check out these thoughts from Peter Bregman on listening and communication: “Have a meaningful conversation and get to the point. If we’re willing to feel anything [including the discomfort of listening to someone you disagree with], then we can do anything.” This very quick read on staying “caught up” at work from Harvard Business Review might hit close to home. (The publication’s daily management tips sometimes hit the spot, too.) And finally, we would be remiss if we neglected this fount of inspiration from the late, great Queen of Soul

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The Weekly Roundup: Misuse versus access in the opioid epidemic (8.10.18)

August 10, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Pharmacists have been finding themselves in the crosshairs in the opioid war, attuned to their responsibility to prevent misuse and diversion while providing access to treatment for patients suffering from chronic pain. Policymakers and care providers are working at the federal and state levels—and in the courts—to map out policies that achieve the right balance.

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Kudos to one of our own Sterling pharmacists!

August 10, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Congratulations to Sterling Northfield pharmacist and Smart-Fill contributor Jessica Astrup Ehret. Jessica has recently been made a finalist for the nationwide Next-Generation Pharmacist Awards in the Rising Star category, an honor given annually to a pharmacist who is defining the future standard of pharmacy practice by his or her professional practice and/or by advocacy in the pharmacy industry.

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The Weekly Roundup: Pharmacy of the Year (7.27.18)

July 27, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Our heartfelt congratulations go out to Smart-Fill member Shatto’s Frontier Drug in Douglas, Wyoming, winner of GNP Pharmacy of the Year at last week’s ThoughtSpot 2018. The contest recognizes a pharmacy that exemplifies what it means to be a pillar in the community they serve: taking patient care to the next level and innovating in pharmacy practice. Co-owners Gary and Jan Shatto serve their community with a personal touch, including investment in diabetes care and opioid awareness.The team will do whatever it takes to ensure patients are cared for—even if that means driving 60 miles to pick up a medication they don’t have on the shelf.

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The Weekly Roundup: Chronic Care Management (7.13.18)

July 14, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Chronic disease is both the cash cow and the nemesis of the healthcare team—depending on whose bleachers you’re sitting in to watch the game. The CDC reports that diseases such as diabetes and hypertension consume more than 85 percent of healthcare spending in the US. In the pharmacy community, we talk at length about how chronic care management can impact our bottom line and improve patient outcomes. It’s clear that collaboration is at least part of the answer.

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The Weekly Roundup: Amazon Acquires Mail Order Pharmacy (6.29.18)

June 29, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Thursday’s announcement that Amazon was purchasing small New Hampshire-based mail-order pharmacy PillPack hit insurer, chain, and PBM stocks hard. The deal was an accelerated bid to acquire licensure nationwide (almost). PillPack was founded to address patient confusion over taking multiple medications by shipping dosed prescription packages. Interestingly, in 2016 the company fought and won a tussle with Express Scripts, who alleged that the company misrepresented their services and had dropped them. The acquisition, expected to close in late 2018, is another clear sign that Amazon is taking its foray into health care seriously. The disruption continues apace and certainly bears watching. To date, commentators seem focused on the supply chain and scalability aspects of their entry into the market, and few are talking about its impact on patient care. Independents are also watching and waiting but one thing is sure: they’re used to the competition

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The Weekly Roundup: Generic Patent Litigation (6.22.18)

June 22, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

In a world of health plan-owned PBMs that leave the anti-trust crowd gnashing their teeth, it’s hard to be surprised when patent squabbles mire the path of generics to market. Last month’s wrist-slap by the FDA may signal a shift in attitude, but it remains to be seen whether outing branded pharmaceutical manufacturers will stop their practice of delaying generic launches—or, as proponents of the practice refer to it, “managing the patent lifecycle.” Last week, the FDA approved a generic version of Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that has been used extensively to treat heroin addiction and is touted for reducing cravings for and withdrawal symptoms from opioids. 

The newly authorized generic was supposed to be sold by Mylan N.V. and Mumbai-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories SA. However, on June 19, mere days after getting the go-ahead from the FDA, Indivior, the manufacturer of Suboxone, convinced a US court that the generic infringed on its patent, and the New Jersey court issued an emergency temporary restraining order against its sale. The latest fracas is not the first for the UK-based company.

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