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Friday, September 18, 2020
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TPA Engages with Texas Pharmacy Students
Michelle Beall speaks at UT Tyler

Texas Pharmacy Association President Michelle Beall visited the UT Tyler Fisch College of Pharmacy September 15 to speak to P1 student pharmacists. Beall discussed the benefits of being involved in the Association and the importance of advocacy for pharmacy professionals.

Beall speaks to UIW pharmacy students

Beall spoke via videoconference to P1 through P4 students from the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy on September 17. “I can’t wait to see what these students pharmacists accomplish,” Beall said. “We had a very robust conversation on how scope of practice is determined and how we can impact that process. We even debated the pros and cons of the current technician proposals with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy.”

In addition, TPA CEO Debbie Garza addressed nearly 400 P1 through P3 University of Houston College of Pharmacy students September 14. Garza spoke as part of the school's Advocacy Convocation about the pharmacist’s role in advocacy and public policy.

TPA Participates in Tarrant County Meeting, Installation
Tarrant County Pharmacy Association

Texas Pharmacy Association CEO Debbie Garza presented a legislative update as part of the Tarrant County Pharmacy Association’s September 17 virtual meeting. Garza addressed important public policy issues for the profession as we look forward to the 2021 Texas legislative session, which begins in January. TPA President Michelle Beall also spoke to the group and conducted the installation of officers including Catherine Parra, president; Lisa Killam-Worrall, vice president; Ron Jencopale, secretary/treasurer; and Theresa Day, Mary Hicks, Sara Robison, Jake Daggett, Ellen Church, Carol Reagan, Alaukika Desai, and Charlie Cid, directors. “Tarrant County has always been a major supporter of the Texas Pharmacy Association,: Beall said. "They have a legacy of strong leadership and their new officers are cut from the same cloth. It was so great to see everyone and share where we’d like to take the profession.”

TPA Members Participate in TSBP Compounding Advisory Group Meeting

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) held the first meeting of its new Compounding Advisory Group on Wednesday, September 16. Among the Texas Pharmacy Association members participating were Jobby John, Richie Ray, and Jeff Carson. Following introductions and a review of TSBP’s responsibilities, the Advisory Group discussed its goals and possible recommendations to the Board. Group members stressed a need for “self-policing” to hold compounding pharmacists accountable for their products to improve quality and safety.

Texas State Board of Pharmacy logo

The Advisory Group will provide a set of questions to the TSBP compliance team by October 9 to aid them in determining a minimum standard for compounding pharmacies. The group will meet again November 18.

HHSC Report Evaluates Cost-Saving Strategies for Medicaid Prescriptions

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has released a report, as required by the 86th Texas Legislature, evaluating strategies to achieve cost savings for Medicaid prescription drugs. The Texas Pharmacy Association submitted comments last year to the HHSC Vendor Drug Program (VDP) in response to the agency’s request.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission

TPA noted that pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare providers and recommending 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. The Association also said that HHSC must increase auditing and oversight of PBMs’ administration of the prescription drug benefit and explained how pharmacists can help to eliminate the major healthcare costs that come with hospitalizations, emergency room visits and poorly managed chronic disease.

The new HHSC report outlines five potential strategies: physician dispensing, a closed formulary, tiered formularies and cost sharing, transition of care medication therapy management, and over-the-counter drugs as value-added services. HHSC determined that the first three strategies lacked sufficient data to determine potential cost savings, while the last two may have potential savings. HHSC said it will continue to consult with stakeholders and other states to research additional strategies and innovative methods, and it will continue to monitor federal law to assess any regulatory changes that may lead to other cost savings opportunities.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (September 2020)
Register for TPA Childhood Immunization Update CE, Sept. 24

Did you know that pharmacists can now order and administer immunizations to children ages 3–18? Make sure you are fully prepared and up-to-speed on the latest recommended childhood vaccines and techniques to immunize every member of the family. Join us next Thursday, September 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an online refresher program on childhood immunizations that will address recommended vaccines and techniques specific to this patient population. Log in to your TPA account to register and receive special member pricing!

Register Now
Your Participation is Powerful: Block-Walk for Douglas Campaign

Don't miss this opportunity to participate in the political process and support one of our own! TPA Member Will Douglas, an independent pharmacist from Dallas, is running to represent District 113 in the Texas House of Representatives. TPA members will gather Saturday, October 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to block-walk in small teams to spread the word to residents throughout Douglas' district, which includes portions of eastern Dallas County. Pharmacists don't often run for state office, and this is our chance to put pharmacy's "house" in order by helping elect a pharmacist to the Texas House.

Will Douglas

If you’re available October 3 or have an interest in participating, sign up today and the Douglas campaign will follow up with details. Then, wear comfortable shoes and your white coat and help spread the word as to why to vote for Will and put a pharmacists in the legislature.

Volunteer to Block Walk for Will
McNabb Promotes CPESN on PQS Quality Corner Podcast

Ben McNabb, lead luminary for CPESN Texas and a member of TPA’s Independent Pharmacy Academy Board of Directors, recently appeared on the PQS Quality Corner Show podcast. McNabb shared his passion for the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN) movement and methods to tackle the upcoming collision of flu and COVID-19. He also highlighted the shift of pharmacy practice to a holistic, value-based model while also discussing how teamwork and innovation will positively affect patients during immunization season.

Pharmacy Quality Solutions (August 25, 2020)
Ben McNabb
H-E-B’s Norman Addresses COVID-19 Pharmacy Challenges

During a recent webinar hosted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, TPA Member Craig Norman, senior vice president of pharmacy at Texas-based H-E-B, discussed some of the issues the pharmacy industry is grappling with in the age of COVID-19—one of the main ones being a drop-off in prescriptions. “The sooner that we can get patients back into the doctor’s offices, back into the clinics, and get treatment for those acute needs that they may be very well ignoring right now, the better it’s going to be from a profitability perspective,” Norman said.

Chain Drug Review (September 15, 2020)
Craig Norman
Donate and Celebrate: Help Raise $50K for 50 Years!

The Texas Pharmacy Foundation recently launched its $50K for 50 Years campaign, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020. For five decades, the Foundation has promoted the interests of Texas pharmacy.

You can help ensure the Foundation can continue to achieve its mission of advancing the profession of pharmacy through research and scholarships. Donate today, then encourage your colleagues, peers, friends and family members to donate as well.

Give Today
Texas Pharmacy Foundation: $50K for 50 Years


DUR Board Meeting Scheduled for Oct. 22 and 23

The next Texas Drug Utilization Review Board will take place over two days. Thursday, Oct. 22 is scheduled to allow public testimony regarding the new drug classes: anticonvulsants, antihemophilic, antineoplastic (i.e., anti-cancer), antiretroviral (i.e., anti-HIV), and medications used to treat multiple sclerosis. The remainder of the meeting takes place Friday, Oct. 23. Registration is forthcoming.

Texas Health and Human Services (September 14, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

HHSC Requests Pharmacy Provider Email Addresses

HHSC and the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership (TMHP) are redesigning the current provider enrollment revalidation process for all providers with a new online portal. The new Provider Enrollment and Management System will begin in early 2021. Pharmacy providers enrolled with VDP can start requesting a TMHP portal account beginning mid-Dec. 2020. To accommodate this change, VDP requests enrolled pharmacy providers ensure their contact information is updated.

Texas Health and Human Services (September 16, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

Drug Utilization Review Board Seeks Members

If you’re interested in the statewide Drug Utilization Review Program for Medicaid, you may want to apply to be a member of the Drug Utilization Review Board. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission executive commissioner will appoint members to the board to serve a term expiring Aug. 31, 2021 or Aug. 31, 2022, unless otherwise noted. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m., Sept. 28.

Texas Health and Human Services (September 14, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

Governor Abbott Eases COVID-19 Restrictions

Gov. Greg Abbott issued executive orders Thursday to allow businesses to expand capacity in much of the state, citing a decline in coronavirus hospitalizations. The order allows businesses operating at 50% capacity to move to 75% starting Monday. That includes restaurants, retail, office buildings, manufacturing, gyms, libraries and museums. Bars remain closed. Abbott also is allowing hospitals in much of the state to resume elective surgeries, effective Monday. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities may resume visitations next Thursday, as long as there are no outbreaks at those facilities. Three regions with high COVID-19 hospitalization rates are excluded: the Rio Grande Valley and the Laredo and Victoria areas.

Austin American-Statesman (September 17, 2020) Cobler, Nicole

Texas Officials Change How State Reports COVID-19 Positivity Rate

Texas health officials announced Monday that they are changing the way the state reports a key metric used to evaluate the extent of coronavirus infection. The Texas Department of State Health Services said it will now “primarily rely” on a new calculation of the daily positivity rate — defined as the share of tests that yield positive results — that takes into account the date on which a coronavirus test was administered.

Texas Tribune (September 14, 2020) Walters, Edgar and Najmabadi, Shannon

Track COVID-19 Cases in Texas

The Texas Department of State Health Services offers an interactive online map with the latest statistics about COVID-19 in Texas. There have been nearly 680,000 confirmed cases reported in the state, with almost 15,000 fatalities. More than 5.3 million molecular tests have been performed, and it’s estimated that nearly 600,000 patients have recovered. About 3,250 patients are currently hospitalized; about 1,200 ICU beds and 7,500 ventilators are available.

Texas Department of State Health Services (September 17, 2020)


Trump Administration Releases COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Strategy

The Trump administration on Wednesday released its most detailed plan yet for distributing and administering millions of doses of a future coronavirus vaccine to Americans for free. In a report to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department sketched out complex plans for a vaccination campaign. The administration plans to use McKesson as its main distributor.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (September 16, 2020)

Officials Prepare to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccine within 24 Hours of FDA's OK

The U.S. government plans to transport a coronavirus vaccine to U.S. distribution sites within 24 hours after the FDA grants an emergency authorization or approval, according to senior administration officials. The CDC said it anticipates a COVID-19 vaccine will initially be granted an emergency use authorization before a full formal approval.

CNBC (September 16, 2020) Lovelace, Berkeley

NASPA, NACDS Engage State Legislators in Flu Vaccination Awareness

The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), of which TPA is a member, and the National Association of Chain Drug stores (NACDS) this week encouraged state legislators to help sustain the momentum behind a critical public health message: getting the flu vaccination this year is critical to prevent a perfect storm of flu and COVID-19.

National Association of Chain Drug Stores (September 15, 2020)

New Executive Order on Drug Prices Includes Part D

President Trump signed an executive order designed to lower drug prices by linking prices paid by Medicare to prices paid in other countries. It replaces an order issued in July, and it applies to drugs purchased under Medicare Part B and Part D. Price ceilings will assist patients with out-of-pocket costs, but it is unclear how this will affect pharmacy reimbursement.

Reuters (September 13, 2020)

Percentage of ER Visits for COVID-19 Decreases Nationally for 8 Weeks

Nationally, since mid-July, there has been an overall decreasing trend in the percentage of specimens testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and a decreasing or stable (change of ≤0.1%) trend in the percentage of visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19-like illness (CLI). The percentage of visits to EDs for CLI decreased nationally for the eighth consecutive week.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (September 11, 2020)

FDA Setting Higher Bar for Emergency COVID Vaccine Clearance

Drugmakers seeking an emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine will have to meet a higher standard of efficacy than normally would be required for such a clearance, the FDA said. The agency will require more robust data about how well a coronavirus vaccine works before granting an emergency use authorization waiver—something called “EUA plus.”

Bloomberg (September 10, 2020) Edney, Anna

National Pharmacy Orgs Develop New Model to Measure, Report Pharmacist Job Demand

The Pharmacy Workforce Center, a nonprofit corporation comprising nine national pharmacy professional organizations, announced the release of the Pharmacy Demand Report, a new tool that provides an enhanced measurement of pharmacist demand in the U.S. by utilizing artificial intelligence to analyze hundreds of millions of publicly available online job postings.

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (September 11, 2020)

Assessing the Size and Scope of the Pharmacist Workforce in the U.S.

Variation in state scope-of-practice laws and regulations limits pharmacists’ ability to consistently practice at the top of their license and also make it confusing for other providers to know the extent to which pharmacists can be used on a care team. Expanding the role of pharmacists may be necessary to keep up with changes in the healthcare market.

University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies (September 2020) Pollock, Samantha; Skillman, Susan; Frogner, Bianca

What You Need to Know about U.S. Supreme Court Case Rutledge v. PCMA

U.S. Representative Earl L. “Buddy” Carter of Georgia, the only pharmacist in Congress, joined RxSafe CEO Bill Holmes to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court case Rutledge v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA). The case revolves around whether states have the right to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).

Pharmacy Podcast Network (September 13, 2020)

Congress Urges HHS to Stop Denials of 340B Discounts

Nearly 250 House lawmakers signed a letter calling on HHS Secretary Alex Azar to stop pharmaceutical firms from refusing to provide 340B discounts to safety net hospitals for drugs dispensed through contract pharmacies. The Health Resources and Services Administration is examining the issue, according to an agency spokesperson.

Becker’s Hospital Review (September 15, 2020) Anderson, Maia

PBMs Defend Value of Their Mail-Service Pharmacies

Pharmacy benefit managers' mail-service pharmacies have always taken steps for patients to receive their medications by using sophisticated automation, geographically dispersed sites, proprietary route determination and sorting processes, and multiple national mail and shipping carriers, writes the President and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

Morning Consult (September 15, 2020) Scott, J.C.


Lack of Antigen Test Reporting Leaves Country ‘Blind to the Pandemic’

More than 20 states either don’t release or have incomplete data on the rapid antigen tests now considered key to containing the coronavirus. The gap will only widen as tens of millions of antigen tests sweep the country. Federal officials are prioritizing the tests to quickly detect COVID-19’s spread over slower, but more accurate, PCR tests.

Kaiser Health News (September 16, 2020) Pradhan, Rachana; Weber, Lauren; and Recht, Hannah

Pharmacy's Personalized Experience of Care

Pharmacists are finding new opportunities to address specific disparities for improved care. In particular, independent pharmacies are successfully modeling strategies that retail pharmacies—if enabled by the right tools—can adopt. Retail pharmacists can remain competitive in value-based healthcare models with a deeper understanding of their patients’ underlying needs and, more specifically, barriers to medication adherence.

Drug Store News (September 15, 2020) Ford, Craig

As U.S. Gets Closer to COVID-19 Vaccine, Fewer People Say They’d Get One

Now just 51% of U.S. adults say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one became available, down from a peak of 72% in early April. In early April, 69% of U.S. adults without a college degree said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if one became available. That share has declined by 24 points to 45%. The trend, if it continues, is troubling to public health experts.

Morning Consult (September 11, 2020) Bracken, Matt

High Price Blocks Access to PrEP Drugs

Prices of preexposure prophylaxis drugs to prevent HIV rose an average of 5% annually between 2014 and 2018, putting the drugs out of reach even for some people with insurance, researchers reported. Insurers cover about 94% of PrEP costs, but many consumers still struggle with out-of-pocket costs because list prices are so high, says a study author.

HealthDay News (September 10, 2020) Mozes, Alan

Drugmaker Says Anti-Inflamatory Medicine May Shorten COVID-19 Recovery

Drugmaker Eli Lilly announced Monday that its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Baricitinib, shortens the number of days in the hospital for COVID-19 patients when used in combination with Remdesivir, another drug already used widely to treat the disease. The combo led to a one-day reduction in recovery time for patients compared to patients who only took Remdesivir.

The Hill (September 14, 2020) Hellmann, Jessie

Gauss, Cellex Announce First Full At-Home Rapid Coronavirus Test

Gauss, a computer vision startup, and Cellex, a biotech company, announced the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed by people at home without involving a laboratory. A user will take a nasal swab to both nostrils, place the swab in a small vial filled with a buffer solution, place four droplets on a rapid test cassette, take a picture of the rapid test, and Gauss's app will deliver back the results—all within 15 minutes.

Axios (September 16, 2020) Walsh, Bryan

Uncontrolled Blood Pressure on Rise in US

A recent study representative of the U.S. population found that uncontrolled blood pressure rose by 10% in 2017–18 compared to several years prior. Researchers from the University of Alabama published their findings on Wednesday in the JAMA Network. The CDC says those with hypertension “might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19."

Fox News (September 12, 2020) Rivas, Kayla

Pharmacists' Role in Preventing Overdoses

"Think of naloxone like an EpiPen or CPR," says Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and pharmacists have a duty to insist that their pharmacies stock naloxone, says Mark Calarco, MD, national medical director for Clinical Diagnostics, American Addiction Centers. Overdose deaths have increased by 13% in the last year, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pharmacy Times (September 10, 2020) Calarco, Mark

Experts: Revamped OxyContin Hasn't Curbed Abuse, Overdoses

A panel of government health advisers said Friday there’s no clear evidence that a harder-to-crush version of the painkiller OxyContin designed to discourage abuse actually resulted in fewer overdoses or deaths. The conclusion from the Food and Drug Administration advisory panel comes more than a decade after Purdue Pharma revamped its blockbuster opioid.

Associated Press (September 12, 2020) Perrone, Matthew

Medically Integrated Pharmacy Care Benefits Patients

As the number of oral cancer treatments increases, a health care team approach to managing patients’ overall care has become more essential. At Texas Oncology, the growing number of oral therapies underscores the importance of a medically integrated pharmacy (MIP) system that improves patient care by streamlining patients’ timely receipt of oral medications.

Clinical Oncology (September 8, 2020) Donovan, Sharon

Medication ‘Product Hopping’ Costs U.S. Billions

A study from Matrix Global Advisors found product hopping, which involves moving patients to reformulated versions of a medication before the patent expires, costs the U.S. health care system billions of dollars a year. The report examined five such instances, pegging the cost of the strategy at $4.7 billion per year for Namenda, Prisolec, TriCor, Doryx and Suboxone.

Becker's Hospital Review (September 15, 2020) Anderson, Maia

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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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