The Weekly Roundup: Suicide Awareness (6.15.18)

June 15, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

The media—and the public—has dialed up its attention to depression over the past few weeks in the wake of a number of high-profile suicides. According to the CDC, overall suicide rates have climbed sharply between 1999 and 2016, including more than 45,000 suicides reported in 2016 alone.

Prescription medications related to high blood pressure, acid reflux, and other conditions aren’t helping. According to Columbia psychiatry professor Mark Olfson, author of this recently released study, the more of these medications a patient is on, the higher the risk for depression as a side effect. So, pharmacists may find themselves in a dual role in the battle against mental illness among their patients:

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The Weekly Roundup: Data Security (5.8.18)

June 08, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

It’s no secret that data is driving innovation in healthcare. From secondary uses of electronic health records to an explosion of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (despite its potential inaccuracies), data is creating a large pool of genetic information from which researchers can draw. For example, the radiology department at Johns Hopkins is culling a vast database of old CT scans to fuel current pancreatic cancer research. A 2017 study of internet trends notes a significant uptick in consumer use of digital apps to monitor or manage health.

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The Weekly Roundup: Right To Try (6.1.18)

June 01, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Deciding who is David and who is Goliath in this fight is not an easy call. On Wednesday, the administration ended the lengthy congressional debate and signed so-called “right-to-try” legislation, giving terminally ill patients access to medications that have not been approved by the FDA. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), author of the bill, said in a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that the legislation was “fundamentally about empowering patients to make decisions in cooperation with their doctors and the developers of potentially life-saving therapies” and “not to grant the FDA more power.”

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The Weekly Roundup: Medication Errors (5.25.18)

May 25, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

In 2017, a Missouri nurse called in a prescription to a pharmacy technician following the discharge of a patient from the hospital. The tech erred in transcribing the prescription, the pharmacist didn’t catch the error, and the pharmacy system didn’t flag it. A month later, the patient was dead and the pharmacy plead guilty to negligence.

According to the FDA, medication errors harm 1.3 million individuals each year and kill at least one person a day. Healthcare costs from medication errors in the U.S. are estimated to be $21 billion per year. The repercussions of a mistake are enormous, which makes transparency about human error a challenge

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The Weekly Roundup: Pricing Woes (5.4.18)

May 04, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

When it comes to assigning blame for drug pricing, there’s plenty of it go around. We’ve seen an uptick in campaigns like this one defending the pharmaceutical industry, and this one defending PBMs. Many of our members have been active in developing and supporting legislation on the federal and state levels to shed some light on pricing practices. It’s an uphill battle, but now one that has another general: class-action attorney Steve Berman. Berman has a long history of besting corporate Goliaths and he is painting Big Pharma with an almost operatic brush.

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Smart-Take: Osteoporosis

May 03, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Nearly a quarter of women and just over five percent of men over 65 have osteoporosis of the femur or lumbar spine, putting them at a high risk of fracture. To help spread awareness of its risks and treatment, we've created another installation for our Smart-Take series—a downloadable page of health tips and information gathered on a range of topics that you can post in your stores.

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The Weekly Roundup: Cannabidiol Compounds (4.27.18)

April 27, 2018 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

The times they are a-changin'. Compounds found in cannabis are rapidly gaining appreciation from the mainstream medical community. Last week, the FDA announced its support of a cannabidiol compound for its potential to treat seizure disorders. The treatment would be marketed under the name Epidiolex by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals and, according to CEO Justin Gover, the approval of the drug “will mark a sea change in the acceptability of cannabinoids as therapy.” The deadline for approval is at the end of June, but many are speculating the unanimous support from the advisory panel indicates a slam-dunk for the drug maker.

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