News from West Virginia Pharmacists Association

The Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, agreed to pay $270 million to settle claims by Oklahoma that illegal marketing of prescription painkillers created an opioid epidemic that devastated local communities.

The world’s first drug for postpartum depression, Zulresso, cleared a major hurdle when it won approval from the FDA. But challenges lie ahead for Sage Therapeutics Inc., the drug’s developer. Zulresso is administered by a two-and-a-half-day infusion: the company plans to charge $34,000 for it.

There is a consistent trend of increasing vaccinations in the pharmacy setting and decreasing vaccinations in the outpatient setting, according to research presented at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ Annual Conference on Vaccinology Research.

According to the CDC, nearly 60,000 children under the age of five years arrive in emergency rooms annually due to poisoning from unsecured medications; 87% of water samples studied by the U.S. Geological Survey contained measurable amounts of 25 medications; and 70% of people with prescription drug substance abuse disorders acquired their drugs by taking them from friends or relatives without their permission.

CVS Health agreed to pay $535,000 to resolve federal allegations it filled dozens of Percocet prescriptions its pharmacists should have known were forged. According to the feds, the federal Controlled Substance Act places a “corresponding responsibility”on pharmacists to ensure the prescriptions they’re filling are valid and legal. CVS agreed to pay to avoid expense of litigation.

WV University Health System will acquire Jackson General hospital. It will be the fifth hospital to be acquired by the System in two years, WV Metro News reports.

CMS is taking aim at increasing the use of generic drugs in ACA plans in a new rule filed. In the rule, CMS included a provision to allow insurers in the 2020 plan year to implement copay accumulator programs that would block the use of manufacturer coupons to lower annual out-of-pocket costs on certain brand name drugs when there’s a generic available. Virginia and West Virginia have banned these programs in their individual markets, and several other states are considering similar moves.

Federal agents participated in what was described as the largest-ever prescription opioid law enforcement operation that resulted in charges against 53 medical professionals in five states. Two of the seven pharmacists charged for illegally dispensing opioids were West Virginians.

The Trump administration is launching a $350 million study aimed at testing a measuring what strategies would be most effective at turning the tide on the opioid crisis.