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Association News

Just 3 Weeks Away: Register Now for Oct. 11 Women in Pharmacy Event

Register for 2019 Women in Pharmacy Event

Research shows clear gender disparities in the way women experience their pharmacy careers. This includes disparities in career progression and seniority, where women are over-represented among pharmacy students and in staff-level positions, but greatly under-represented in senior positions such as pharmacy owners or executive roles. The way we work has changed and evolved. Understanding the emerging trends associated with this shift, and the potential barriers faced, better prepares women for the future of our profession.

Seating is limited, so reserve your space today for the Texas Pharmacy Association's 2019 Women in Pharmacy Event, October 11 in Austin. This one-day conference will help foster your connections with women in pharmacy through interactive education sessions that focus on you, your career and your profession. You’ll come away with 6 hours of continuing education (CE) credit, and there will be plenty of networking opportunities for interaction and dialogue. Male pharmacy professionals supporting these efforts are welcome to attend. TPA members receive discounted registration.


TPA Asks USP to Reconsider Compounding Rules Limiting Beyond-Use Dates

USP LogoThe Texas Pharmacy Association joined the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP) and more than 30 other states this week in expressing concerns about with a recent decision by the United States Pharmacopeia Convention’s (USP). Its Compounding Expert Committee rejected multiple requests to not move forward with proposed revisions to USP General Chapters <795> and <797> that severely limit beyond-use dates (BUDs). "We respectfully request that USP instruct the Expert Committee to engage compounding pharmacists to develop alternative BUDs that will ensure continued patient access to compounded medications," the associations wrote. "The severely shortened BUDs, especially those specified for sterile compounds, will not only reduce the useable life of compounded medication, it will also limit pharmacists’ ability to prepare sufficient quantities of compounded medication to serve their patients. Read the full letter online.

Garza Speaks at Nigerian Pharmacists' Meeting

Debbie Garza at NAPPSA Meeting
TPA CEO Debbie Garza with TPA members Emmanuel Omehe and Kunle Tometi at the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists annual meeting.

Texas Pharmacy Association CEO Debbie Garza was invited to speak September 14 at the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas 2019 Scientific Conference & Exposition in Atlanta. As a veteran of successful pharmacy advocacy efforts at both state and national level, she addressed the importance of pharmacists being involved in advocacy for their profession. "It was great to see so many TPA members and Texas Nigerian pharmacists in attendance," Garza said. TPA affiliated with the Nigerian Pharmacists Association of Dallas-Fort Worth in 2018.

Texas delegation at NAPPSA
The Texas delegation at the NAPPSA meeting last week in Atlanta.

TPA Submits Cost-Saving Suggestions for Medicaid Prescription Drugs

Texas Health and Human ServicesThe Texas Pharmacy Association submitted a letter last week to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Vendor Drug Program (VDP) in response to the agency's request for innovative strategies to achieve cost savings for Medicaid prescription drugs. VDP has been charged with evaluating strategies and submitting a report by September 1, 2020.

TPA's letter noted that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers and recommended that Texas Medicaid can effectively control costs by focusing on transparency, oversight and accountability, medication therapy management (MTM), and value-based payment and alternative payment models. "Transitioning prescription drug payments to a more real-time pricing benchmark with payment methodologies based on actual acquisition costs and professional dispensing fees bearing a relation to true economics of the process is the most transparent and cost-effective model," TPA wrote. The Association also said that HHSC must increase auditing and oversight of PBMs’ administration of the prescription drug benefit, citing the state’s recent Molina/Caremark Office of Inspector General report as well as issues found in other states. Additionally, with better medication adherence, prevention and access to and support for primary and chronic care, TPA explained how pharmacists can help to eliminate the major healthcare costs that come with hospitalizations, emergency room visits and poorly managed chronic disease.

Support a Pharmacy Champion: Join Us Oct. 2

Rep. Eddie Lucio IIITPA Vice President Michael Muñiz and member Richie Ray are co-hosting a fundraiser in Harlingen on Wednesday, October 2, honoring Representative Eddie Lucio, III, chairman of the House Insurance Committee. You may recall that Lucio fought for pharmacy by championing important pharmacy legislation involving PBMs, payment for services, provider status, and more during this year’s 86th Texas Legislative Session.

This is a terrific opportunity to show Chairman Lucio that Texas pharmacy is strong and supports him. PBMs, health plans, and others are lobbying hard and making significant contributions to Texas legislators. This is a chance for pharmacy to come together and make an impression. We will have his undivided attention to remind him about our issues and concerns. If you are unable to attend, you may still contribute. View additional details online.

Past President Stresses Importance of Advocacy to Pharmacy Students

UT-APhA-ASP Deep Dive into Policy
Pictured, clockwise from bottom left, are TPA Past President Mark Comfort, Ethan Tu, Danielle Alvarez, Isabella Chen, Katelyn Corley, and Rainah Mcintyre.

TPA Immediate Past President Mark Comfort discussed advocacy and recent legislative wins with pharmacy students at an event Monday, September 16, hosted by the Policy and Advocacy Sector of The University of Texas-APhA-ASP. The “Deep Dive into Policy” was held at Via 313 in Austin. As the key guest for the event, Comfort chatted with student pharmacists and informed them about legislation recently passed in Texas and its impact on the pharmacy profession. He congratulated the students for wanting to get more informed and involved with advocacy. “This is your profession, and you must be involved with advocacy to protect the large investment you have made in your education,” Comfort said.

Join Pharmacy in Support of Sen. Cornyn

Sen. John CornynTPA and PharmPAC Board Member Richie Ray, R.Ph., is hosting a fundraiser for U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Wednesday evening, October 9, in The Woodlands (near Houston). Cornyn is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which will be making decisions about reforming pharmacy DIR at the federal level. Those unable to attend the event may still contribute. For additional information about the event, to donate, or to RSVP, contact Meredith Hill at meredith@mango-llc.com or call (210) 240-1708.

In the State

Amazon Battles for Corner Pharmacy in Texas and Nationally

Getting into the pharmacy business was easy for Amazon.com: It paid $753 million to buy the mail-order startup PillPack. The hard part has been prying patients away from their local drugstore. After it lost two patients to PillPack last fall, Best Value Rhome Pharmacy near Fort Worth, Texas, started immediately calling patients when it got PillPack transfer requests, said pharmacist/owner Carter High, a member of the Texas Pharmacy Association and President of the Alliance of Independent Pharmacists of Texas. He said he tells the patients about the $150,000 multi-dose packaging machine his pharmacy now owns, which allows the store to offer PillPack-style service. Since then, “I’ve been able to keep them all in-house,” High said.

New Hampshire Union-Leader (September 16, 2019) Bloomberg, Robert Langreth

58 Charged in DOJ Opioid Takedown in Texas

The Department of Justice's Health Care Fraud Unit revealed Wednesday a multi-jurisdictional investigation in Texas that resulted in 58 people being charged in 21 cases of health care fraud, including doctors, pharmacists and others. The DOJ said those charged were allegedly involved "in Medicare fraud schemes and networks of 'pill mill' clinics resulting in $66 million in loss and 6.2 million pills" being distributed.

KXAS-TV (September 18, 2019)

National News

NACDS Defends Medicaid Patients' Pharmacy Access

Rolling back assurances that Medicaid patients have appropriate healthcare access in each state would jeopardize health and increase costs, NACDS told the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in official comments. NACDS' comments take issue with a proposed rule that would repeal the approach by which states demonstrate and ensure compliance with federal "access requirements." Medicaid patients must have access to healthcare services at least on par with those available to a geographic area’s general population.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores (September 17, 2019)

FDA Finds Contaminant in Popular Heartburn Drug

U.S. health officials said last Friday they are investigating low levels of a potentially dangerous contaminant in the popular heartburn medication Zantac and related generic drugs. For now, the Food and Drug Administration said patients can continue taking their medications.

U.S. Food and Drug  Administration (September 13, 2019) Woodcock, Janet

Rebates Rein in Growth on Part D Brand-Name Drug Spending

Rebates negotiated by pharmacy benefit managers and health insurers slowed growth in spending on brand-name medications in Medicare Part D by 15% from 2011 to 2015, according to a report from the HHS Office of Inspector General. Total reimbursement for branded drugs increased to $65 billion from $55 billion during the period.

Healthcare Finance (September 18, 2019) Morse, Susan

FDA Advisers Back Treatment for Kids With Peanut Allergy

The treatment is daily capsules of peanut powder that gradually help children build up a tolerance. The outside panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted overwhelmingly in favor of the treatment from Aimmune Therapeutics. The nonbinding vote amounts to an endorsement for approval.

Associated Press (September 13, 2019) Perrone, Matthew

Trump Move on Flavored e-Cigarettes May Hit Adults Trying to Quit

The Trump administration argues flavors such as cherry and mint are fueling a youth vaping "epidemic" and must be removed from the market. But experts say flavored vapes have also helped some adults wean themselves off of cigarettes, one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

The Hill (September 14, 2019) Hellmann, Jessie

Regulatory Clarity Needed for New Drug Payment Models

Commercial prescription drug plans and Medicaid drug benefit administrators are testing alternative payment models including subscription-type payments, reimbursement based on patient outcomes or fixed per-capita payments. A study found regulatory flexibility and clarity and better methods for measuring outcomes could increase use of APMs.

Modern Healthcare (September 17, 2019) Brady, Michael

From Vaping to Opioids: Trump Redefines Health Care for 2020 Run

The Trump administration’s assault on e-cigarettes is the latest move by the White House to salvage his health care agenda. Turning away from the bitter Obamacare debates, Trump’s been building his disease-by-disease agenda all year, aimed at suburban voters who may be put off by the Democrats’ left turn on health care.

Politico (September 12, 2019) Kenen, Joanne and Diamond, Dan

Pelosi Unveils Bill to Negotiate Prescription Drug Prices

The speaker's proposal calls for the federal government to negotiate prices for the top 250 most expensive drugs that don't have at least two competitors, with amounts pegged to the costs of the drugs in other countries. It would also levy steep fines on drug companies that refuse to engage in negotiations and limit how much drug costs can go up.

National Public Radio (September 19, 2019) Davis, Susan

Pharmacists for Healthier Lives Launches Immunization Campaign

Pharmacists for Healthier Lives launched this week an effort that aims to educate the public about the importance of immunizations to maintain a healthy population. The new initiative includes interviews with pharmacists from a variety of backgrounds, displayed on social media. "Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation being spread about vaccinations," said Lucinda Maine, executive VP and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Chain Drug Review (September 17, 2019)

Trending News

Upside-Down—and Unsustainable: Why DIR Fix Is Needed Now

It’s awfully difficult to run a pharmacy small business when you have no idea at the point of sale if you’re going to make a small profit, break even, or, thanks to retroactive pharmacy DIR fees, end up upside-down and losing money on a medication you’re dispensing. And on many Part D claims, upside-down is becoming the unsustainable norm.

Morning Consult (September 16, 2019) La Violette, Karry

Specialty Pharmacists Play Vital Role in Transitions from Hospital to Home

Difficult transitions from cancer care in the hospital to community care can improve with help from specialty pharmacists. An essential role of the specialty pharmacist can include navigating the continuum of care by gaining prior authorizations and negotiating with insurances to obtain the best drugs to avoid adverse events.

Pharmacy Times (September 16, 2019) Fyfe, Sandra

ICU Pharmacist Team Model May Improve Care

Having a dedicated critical care pharmacist team in an ICU, instead of just one specialist pharmacist, may improve the quality of pharmacy services, according to a report. Researchers found ICU patients have to wait for care when a specialist pharmacist is not on duty, so they trained non-specialist pharmacists to provide the full range of services.

NJBIZ (September 16, 2019) Vecchione, Anthony

Enhancing How Epilepsy Is Managed by Engaging Community Pharmacists

Researchers in Washington state will examine how community pharmacists can better support epilepsy patients by allowing them to collaborate with other providers and evaluate medication use patterns and patient outcomes data to ensure medications are used effectively, safely, and cost effectively. No models currently exist for engaging community pharmacists in population health approaches to epilepsy care.

Medical Xpress (September 12, 2019) University of Washington

New Flu Vaccine Ditches Needles for a Patch

A new needle-free flu vaccine patch can bolster the immune system in the same way as the traditional flu shot without the negative side effects. The team behind the patch hopes to trial it on humans, noting that a patch doesn’t have to be refrigerated, can be applied by anyone, and there are no concerns about disposal or needles getting reused.

Futurity (September 16, 2019) Boynton-Rochester, Emily

Will Combo Pill Catch on in US to Prevent Heart Attacks?

A cheap, daily pill that combines four drugs has been tested for the first time in the United States to see if it works as well among low-income Americans as it has in other countries to treat conditions leading to heart attacks and strokes. The strategy has been seen as useful only in places with limited access to medical care.

Associated Press (September 18, 2019) Johnson, Carla

Majority of Pharmacists Need Support Managing Stress at Work

The majority of respondents to a Pharmacist Support survey expressed concern about managing stress at work and their work–life balance, mental health and general wellbeing. Community pharmacy was the most concerned sector of general wellbeing, with 78% of community pharmacist respondents identifying mental health as a “key issue.”

The Pharmaceutical Journal (September 11, 2019) Robinson, Julia

Beyond Insulin: Prior Authorizations Inconvenience, Burden Patients

Diabetes activists and legislators have started to focus attention on the surging price of insulin, leading to legislative pushes, lawsuits and congressional hearings. But managing Type 1 diabetes requires other essential, often life-saving medical supplies. Patients frequently face hurdles by insurance companies in getting access to those supplies.

National Public Radio (September 18, 2019) Sable-Smith, Bram

Purveyors of Black-Market Pharmaceuticals Target Immigrants

The bootleg medications were smuggled across the border and sold to mostly Latino immigrants in public spaces—at swap meets, parks, beauty salons and makeshift stands outside mom-and-pop grocery stores. The drugs were cheap, and the customers, mostly from Mexico and Central America, did not need prescriptions to buy them.

Kaiser Health News (September 16, 2019) Glionna, John

Generics and Biosimilars Facing Formulary Difficulties

New changes in the market are making it more difficult than ever for generics and biosimilars to successfully compete on formularies. A significant shift has led to more generic drugs getting placed on higher formulary tiers—significantly increasing copay amounts for patients. Manufacturers also use rebates to limit the reach of new generic products.

Drug Topics (September 11, 2019) Sederstrom, Jill

Pharmacists in the ED Speed Delivery of Critical Drug to Patients with Life-Threatening Bleeding

When patients on blood thinners come to the emergency department (ED), they may require a drug that counteracts their effect in case of life-threatening bleeding. When a pharmacist is present in the ED, patients receive four-factor prothrombin complex concentrate (4F-PCC) more quickly, resulting in less time in the ICU and shorter hospital stays.

Newswise (September 4, 2019) Loyola University Health System

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Register for NCPA 2019 Annual Convention, Oct. 26-29
Texas Pharmacists: Learn everything about the business side of pharmacy! Pharmacy owner peers will detail innovative strategies and services they’ve successfully applied to their business to boost pharmacy revenue, attract new patients, and reduce expenses. With 20-plus hours of business education, there’s an abundance of insights and lessons to walk away with and apply to your business. The NCPA 2019 Annual Convention is also a great opportunity to network with peers and health care experts alike! Don’t delay. Click here to register and book your hotel today!

Free Monthly Member CE

Texas Pharmacy Today
Editor: Brian Sparks, Division Director, Communications and Marketing
(512) 615-9140 • bsparks@texaspharmacy.org

Texas Pharmacy Association

Debbie Garza, R.Ph., Chief Executive Officer • (512) 615-9170

Disclaimer: Texas Pharmacy Today is a weekly e-newsletter for members of the Texas Pharmacy Association, 3200 Steck Avenue, Suite 370, Austin, TX 78757. According to Texas Government Code 305.027, portions of this material may be considered "legislative advertising." Authorization for its publication is made by Debbie Garza, CEO, Texas Pharmacy Association.
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