WVPA Update: November 7

In 2017, West Virginia healthcare providers wrote 81.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 state residents, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The national average? Just 58.7.

Treah Haggerty and Cara Sedney — researchers in the WVU School of Medicine — are studying how a new WV law (Senate Bill 273) has changed the way healthcare providers prescribe opioids. Working with the WV Board of Pharmacy, they’re examining prescription practices before and after the new took effect June 7, 2018, and pinpointing differences. SB 273 curtails the initial amount of opioids that physicians can prescribe a patient, under various circumstances.

In 2018, independent community pharmacies represented 35% of all retail pharmacies in the U.S.

Walgreens plans to develop “small stores” that will focus less on retail and more on health and wellness.

WVPA welcomes these independent pharmacies as members in 2020: Harold Wells, Blue Well Family Pharmacy; Ronald McKinney, Cardinal Pharmacy; Doug Lester, Doug’s Drugs; Robert Dutton, Dutton Pharmacy; Melvin Jamison, Glen Daniel Pharmacy; Tom Kines, Kines Family Pharmacy; Matt Comer, Medical Arts Pharmacy; R. Kelly Massie, Peterstown Pharmacy; Rhonda Rose, Rhonda’s Pharmacy; Levi Hale, Rhonda’s Pinville Pharmacy; and Walter Moore, RxByTel Pharmacy.

Maryland School of Pharmacy is launching the first program in the country to offer a master’s degree in medical cannabis. The program covers everything from drug policy to clinical care. While students aren’t directly exposed to the marijuana plant, which is illegal under federal law, they will learn about science behind the compounds that are found in it, like THC and CBD.

CVS has delivered the first prescription meds by autonomous drone. The reason for experimenting with drone delivery is to be able to serve patients who need meds, don’t have a healthcare provider nearby, cannot wait for mail delivery, and are unable to get to a store.

As pharmacy practice evolves and the role of pharmacists continue to expand, the notion of working alongside other health care professionals to provide patient services is becoming more widely accepted as key to a pharmacist’s job. Some pharmacy schools are offering inter-professional education (IPE) programs to prepare student pharmacists for their future roles as patient care providers.

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that requires Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish pharmacy benefit managers’ aggregate rebates, discounts and price concessions and require plans to include real-time benefit information on drug costs in Medicare Part D.

In a study from the American Pain Society, medical cannabis was found to decrease the use of opiates and opioid overdoses by about 60 percent. Medical cannabis and CBD were found to be equivalent pain relief methods to opioids, leading it to reduce the addictive use of opioids and opiates among patients, according to the U.S. National Institute of Medicine.

With the FDA approval of Ziextenzo — a biosimilar of Neulasta — Sandoz is the first and only company to offer long- and short-acting filrastim biosimilar treatment options.

The Ensuring Seniors Accesss to Local Pharmacies Act (HR 4946) would require that community pharmacies in medically underserved areas or health professional shortage areas be allowed to participate in Medicare Part D preferred networks. This would allow seniors in these areas to access lower co-pays at any pharmacy willing to accept the Medicare Part D drug plan’s “preferred pharmacy” terms and conditions.

An FDA-led task force released a report in November on chronic drug shortages. The findings were that two-thirds of the 163 drugs affected by the shortages in recent years were generally low-cost generics and had been on the market for a median of almost 35 years The report also found that over half of recent drug shortages were caused by quality control problems at manufacturing facilities.