Brief news for pharmacists

Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are combining their over-the-counter drugs and healthcare products to create a new joint venture. The drugs include well-known brands, such as the painkillers Advil and Excedrin, Sensodyne toothpaste, Tums and the vitamin brands Centrum and Caltrate. The companies plan to finalize the deal in the second halve of 2019. The new venture will have about $12.7 billion in joint sales annually.

The National Council of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) reports its “Pharmacy Benefits Manager Licensure and Regulation Act.” The Act establishes the standards and criteria for the regulation and licensure of pharmacy benefit managers providing claims processing services or other prescription drug or device services for health benefit plans.

Walgreens is launching next-day prescription delivery as pharmacies brace for the possibility of Amazon’s entry into their world. The chain announced it is partnering with FedEx to offer drug delivery throughout the nation in a new program called Walgreens Express. The move comes after rival CVS Health recently announced a similar delivery service.

The number of uninsured children in the U.S. goes up for the first time in eight years, according to a new report based on government data. There were 3.9 million uninsured children nationwide in 2017, 276,000 more than the year before.

With midterm elections completed, there are now 33 states, as well as Washington, D.C., that have legalized medicinal cannabis in some form. And earlier this year, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first prescription drug made from cannabis. The number of trained medical marijuana pharmacists is growing, and they are establishing their legitimacy in the medical community. Five state have formally established a role for pharmacists in the medical marijuana dispensing process.

Medical marijuana patients in Pennsylvania are using cannabis to treat chronic pain more than any other affliction, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Between 60 to 70 percent of our patients are using the medicine for pain, said officials at the TerrVida Holistic Centers, the state’s largest medical marijuana retailer.

Every Rite Aid Pharmacy in West Virginia will become Walgreens by the end of the year which means effective January 1, 2019, that they will not be part of CareSource or Highmark’s Pharmacy Network. Over 30,000 people are expected to be impacted by the change.

According to the DEA, controlled prescription drugs remain responsible for the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class since 2001. These drugs are the second most commonly abused substance. Traffickers are now disguising other opioids as controlled prescription drugs to gain access to this market.