Recent news of importance to pharmacists

West Virginia pharmacists should stay informed of a 20-state lawsuit striking down Obamacare.  A hearing this week calls for federal enforcement of Obamacare to be halted while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts.  This can result in citizens in these 20 states — including West Virginia whose Attorney General Patrick Morrisy joined in the suit — not having prescription drug coverage until the court reaches a decision.

Pediatricians encourage kids to opt for flu shot over nasal spray.  To protect against the flu season ahead, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children six months and older opt for the shot over the nasal spray.  The AAP is prioritizing the shot because the nasal spry, known as FluMist, has a spotty track record of effectiveness.  Still, the organization said the spray in children older than 2 was better than not being vaccinated at all, callings its effectiveness “an unknown” this season.   AAP had recommended against the nasal spray during the previous two flu seasons, though it can be popular with children who are afraid of needles.  The last flu season resulted in 179 deaths among children, a record.  Eighty percent of those who died had not been vaccinated.

Lawmakers search for answers on oversight of controversial drug discount program.  Bipartisan lawmakers are looking to the Trump administration to boost oversight of a controversial drug discount program while the outlook for legislative fixes this year darkens.  Lawmakers on both sides have been demanding greater transparency of the program, called 340B, as various legislation has stalled so far in Congress amid an intense lobbing war between pharma and hospital groups.

Postal Service may be given more tools to stop shipments of illicit fetanyl from getting into the U.S. if Congress passes the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention Act.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma announced Wednesday that it is providing a $3.4 million grant to Harm Reduction Therapeutics, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit, to help develop a low-cost naloxone nasal spray.  The announcement comes as lawsuits from local governments blaming Purdue and other companies in the drug industry for using deceptive marketing practices to encourage heavy prescribing of the powerful and addictive painkillers.   Last week the number of lawsuits against the industry being overseen by a federal judge topped 1,000.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that drug overdoses killed a record 72,000 Americans last year, about 10 percent more than in 2016.  The majority of the deaths involved opioids.  But a growing number of them are from illicit synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, rather that prescription opioids, such as OxyContin or Vicodin.