News you can use, October 2015


APhA, NASPA: Pharmacists can help improve access to naloxone

Improving access to naloxone, given its impact on opioid overdose mortality, was the topic of September 1 joint comments from APhA and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) to FDA. 

On July 1–2, FDA held a scientific workshop to start a public discussion about “issues surrounding the uptake of naloxone in certain medical settings—such as on ambulances and in association with prescriptions for opioids—as well as outside of conventional medical settings to reduce the incidence of opioid overdose fatalities,” according to the FDA website, where meeting webcasts and transcripts are available.

APhA and NASPA focused on cost, education, and pharmacists’ scope of practice. “For many patients, cost can be a significant barrier in accessing health care resources,” according to the comments. About education, they wrote that because naloxone’s availability beyond hospitals and emergency departments and emergency medical transport is a relatively recent occurrence, there needs to be an emphasis on training related to the appropriate use and administration of naloxone. On pharmacists’ scope of practice, “several states have turned to pharmacists to increase patient access through pharmacist prescribing of naloxone,” they wrote.

“APhA and NASPA support the role of pharmacists, an important member of the patient’s health care team, in furnishing opioid reversal agents to help prevent opioid-related deaths and insurance policies that cover naloxone prescriptions, from all providers, for patients and caregivers who need it,” according to the comments. 

Pharmacy Today: 20 years ago today …

Following are top headlines from October 1995:

“Prescription misuse costs billions annually”: A new study published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine estimated that drug-related morbidity and mortality cost the U.S. economy an estimated $76.6 billion each year, not including the cost of lost workplace productivity.

“Alendronate approved for osteoporosis”: Alendronate sodium (Fosamax—Merck), the first nonhormonal treatment for osteoporosis, was approved by FDA for use in menopausal women.

“Pharmacists can help treat athletic injuries”: The demand for pharmacists familiar with sports-related injuries has grown as Americans have increased their interest in recreational sports and regular exercise.

“Communication emphasized during National Pharmacy Week”: During National Pharmacy Week 1995, held October 22–28, pharmacists nationwide took part in activities to publicize the importance of communicating with patients.

‘Great success stories’: APhA Foundation celebrates Pinnacle Awards

The APhA Foundation recognized Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, FAPhA; The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and Division of General Internal Medicine; and Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy—Pharmacy Serv-ice Centers and Academic Partners Program in the 18th annual celebration of the Pinnacle Awards program at APhA headquarters on September 16.

Rodriguez de Bittner was presented with the 2015 Individual Award for Career Achievement. The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy and Division of General Internal Medicine received the 2015 Group Practice–Health System–Corporation Award. The 2015 Government Agency–Nonprofit Organization–Association Award went to Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy—Pharmacy Service Centers and Academic Partners Program.

“Tonight, we celebrate these great success stories,” said APhA President Lawrence “L.B.” Brown, PharmD, PhD, FAPhA. “It is a challenging time to be a pharmacist, but it is an exciting time” because of work like that being done by the Pinnacle Award winners, he said.

Ed Hamilton, PharmD, FAPhA, president of the APhA Foundation’s Board of Directors, served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. The APhA Foundation Board of Directors and the 2015 Pinnacle Awards Selection Committee were among those introduced by APhA COO Elizabeth Keyes, BSPharm, interim executive director for the APhA Foundation.

Following a short video featuring each award winner, Hamilton presented each honoree with a crystal eagle. Premier support for the Pinnacle Awards was provided by an educational grant from Merck, and support was also provided by an educational donation by Amgen.

In the video, Rodriguez de Bittner said, “I have always had this passion for making sure the pharmacist was front and center in helping patients manage their conditions and really helping them with medications.” Now professor and executive director of the Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, she has dedicated her career to the advancement of pharmacy practice and the development of innovative and sustainable patient care programs. 

“Gracias and buenas noches,” said Rodriguez de Bittner to open her remarks. “I am so lucky to have a profession that I love.” She continued, “That’s the easy part—getting somebody to take their medication. It’s really to help them to achieve their life goals.” Barriers, she noted, include not being able to afford a medication or not living in a safe environment. 

Accepting the Pinnacle Award for The Ohio State University were Stuart J. Beatty, PharmD, BCACP, CDE, vice chair of clinical affairs and associate professor of clinical pharmacy for The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, and Neeraj H. Tayal, MD, FACP, director of the division of general internal medicine and associate professor of clinical medicine for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. 

In this partnership, pharmacists have been involved in team-based primary care since 2006. “I’m really happy I made that decision,” Tayal said in his remarks. Pharmacists are “really integrally embedded in this program” and are influencing a tremendous number of physicians as “young docs” learn they need to get trained pharmacists on their team. Beatty noted in his remarks that pharmacists try to give solutions to physicians. “We all try to work together to take care of the patient,” he said.

Janet K. Astle, BSPharm, EdD, assistant dean for student services at Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy, accepted the final Pinnacle Award in this year’s program. The school educates and mentors student pharmacists while providing patient care services and educational outreach to members of the underserved community in the greater Pittsburgh area. Established by the school in 2002, the Center for Pharmacy Care is a pharmacist-coordinated provider of disease prevention. The Duquesne University Pharmacy, second of the Pharmacy Service Centers, opened in 2010 as the first university-operated, full-service community pharmacy in the nation located in the heart of an economically depressed neighborhood.

“Our Duquesne University Pharmacy was first established in a marginalized and economically depressed area of the city that had not had access to a community pharmacy or pharmacy services for over 10 years,” Astle said in a video. “Our spirit of helping is associated with local food banks and provides services to populations that have no other access to health care.”

The 2015 Pinnacle Awards Inno-vations in Pharmacy Practice Lecture was presented by The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy and Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore on September 15. The event was hosted by the APhA Foundation and supported by an educational donation from Amgen.

White House emphasizes preventing falls among seniors

The White House Conference on Aging, in conjunction with the National Council on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, held the Falls Prevention Summit earlier this year. The summit emphasized that falls can be prevented and do not have to be a natural part of aging.

As part of this added emphasis on falls prevention, CDC created the STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) toolkit. It includes established clinical guidelines and tested interventions designed to help health care providers integrate falls screening, assessment, and referral to community-based fall prevention programs into their daily practice. CDC lists regular medication reviews with a doctor or pharmacist as being among the key steps seniors can take to prevent falls.

“Maybe they fell because their foot got caught on a throw rug, or the bricks were crooked on the sidewalk. But ultimately, if their balance is thrown off to begin with, if you drill down, oftentimes you can point to a medication problem,” said Joan Baird, PharmD, CGP, FASCP, director of education and clinical affairs at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. 

Furthering efforts to prevent falls among seniors, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Admin-istration on Community Living is awarding grants designed to both increase participation in evidence-based community falls prevention programs and to encourage innovation, collaboration and long-term sustainability of community-based programs. President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget includes $5 million in new funding for this work.

APhA emphasizes the role of pharmacists as key players in prevention of falls. “Recent preliminary research results indicate that when pharmacists intervene with patients on [drugs that may increase the risk of falls], risk of injury due to a fall decreases,” said APhA Director of Regulatory Affairs Jillanne Schulte, JD. 

For more information, read “Watch Your Step: Helping Patients Avoid Falls,” on page 30 of August’s Today ).