texaspharmacy.org  Friday, January 11, 2019 View Archive
Association News

TPA at the Capitol for Opening of 2019 Texas Legislative Session

The Texas Pharmacy Association was at the state Capitol for the opening day of the 86th Texas Legislative Session on Tuesday. Stephanie Chiarello, TPA’s division director, public affairs, was there to welcome new members and discuss the Association’s legislative priorities. TPA and Dallas Area Pharmacy Association Member Melanie Smith was also in attendance and met directly with her legislators. While there, TPA ran into former Senator Leticia Van de Putte, a TPA member who served in the legislature for many years. It was a celebratory day in which House members unanimously elected Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) as Speaker of the House, and Senator Kirk Watson (D-Austin) was named President Pro-Tem of the Senate.

Stephanie Chiarello with former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte
Stephanie Chiarello and Melanie Smith 
 TPA Public Affairs Director Stephanie Chiarello with former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (left)
and TPA member Melanie Smith (right) at the state Capitol.

Business Roundtable Features Lt. Governor

On Wednesday, the Texas Pharmacy Association co-sponsored an exclusive conversation with Lt. Governor Dan Patrick at the Texas Business Roundtable meeting. Patrick addressed his legislative priorities for the session, speaking about property tax and public education reform as well as his focus on border security. You can watch the conversation online.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (left) speaks at the Texas Business Roundtable meeting.

Registration Open for Pharmacy Day at the Capitol

Pharmacy Day at the Capitol

Register now to participate in Pharmacy Day at the Capitol! Each legislative year, this event brings hundreds of pharmacy professionals together to make their voices heard because Your Voice is Vital! It’s a chance to meet legislators, network, and contribute to promoting and advancing your profession. Your Innovation is Impactful!

The day will include a breakfast briefing to hear from legislators and review talking points for key pharmacy issues. Then, pharmacy professionals will attend meetings with legislators and staff to educate them on the issues and how they impact pharmacy and patient outcomes. We want to blanket the Capitol with white coats demonstrating pharmacy is politically viable and a force to be reckoned. Your Participation is Powerful!

Refer a Colleague to Join TPA Today!

Membership Matters -- Join TPA Today

You're up to date with the latest news affecting your profession, but what about your colleagues? Now that the biennial Texas legislative session is under way, this is a great time to encourage your pharmacy friends and coworkers to join TPA! Membership matters: it not only keeps pharmacy professionals informed, but it also affects our influence at the Capitol. Refer a friend today!

In the State

New House Research Organization Report Reviews Topics for 86th Legislature

The report notes that lawmakers may consider proposals to establish limits on first-time opioid prescriptions, enhance the Prescription Monitoring Program, require electronic prescribing of certain controlled substances, and expand access to treatment for those addicted to opioids and other substances. Lawmakers also may consider a statewide standing order to enable all pharmacies to provide naloxone to eligible persons without the pharmacy obtaining a physician’s order.

House Research Organization (December 20, 2018)

Laws Banning Gag Clauses on Pharmacists Benefit Consumers

Although the cost of many prescription drugs continues to rise, consumers may be able to save money at the pharmacy—if they ask—thanks to new laws banning gag clauses at the pharmacy. A March 2018 study found that for about one out of five prescriptions, insurers required people to pay more using their insurance plan than if they paid the pharmacy's retail price. Why? Gag clauses prevented pharmacists from telling customers that a lower price may be available by not using their insurance. But that's changed.

KSAT-TV (January 7, 2019) Moritz, Marilyn

The Seven Big Issues of the 2019 Texas Legislature

In addition to broad issues such as school finance and property tax reform, marijuana is expected to be a major topic of discussion at the Capitol, as cannabis proponents eye 2019 as the year for a breakthrough in terms of easing some of the state’s prohibitions. Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, has filed legislation that would make medical cannabis available to many more people at greater potency than allowed under the state’s current statute. Other cannabis-related bills that could gain traction include efforts to decriminalize small amounts of pot possession and enable Texas farmers to grow and market hemp — marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin — to the extent allowed by federal law. Still, even cannabis activists view full marijuana legalization for any adult use as likely a bridge too far next year for the conservative-dominated Legislature.

Austin American-Statesman (January 6, 2019)

14 Other Issues for the Texas Legislature

Among the topics likely to be debated are health care and managed care. Health insurance will be in the spotlight after a federal judge struck down the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, already filed a bill that would expand eligibility for Medicaid in Texas and codify insurance protections outlined in the Affordable Care Act into state law. Under the managed care system, the state hands over the administration of Medicaid services, including decision making on what kinds of services an individual receives, to private insurance companies. The move is meant to save the state money as well as improve the quality of services by spreading the responsibilities to more companies.

Austin American-Statesman (January 6, 2019)

Former Texas HHSC Official Named Acting Director for Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services

A former Texas Health and Human Services executive commissioner has been tapped to be the acting director of the federal Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. Chris Traylor will oversee how states are running Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers children ineligible for Medicaid. His new position comes after joining the federal government in July as deputy administrator for strategic initiatives at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Texas Tribune (January 8, 2019) Evans, Marissa

EPA Signs Final Rule for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals

In December, the EPA Acting Administrator signed the final rule for “Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine.” Once this new pharmaceutical rule becomes effective, Texas healthcare facilities will be prohibited from disposing of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals into sewer systems. Additional requirements in the federal rule will not be effective in Texas until they are formally adopted into the state regulations. The EPA has scheduled two webinars this month to discuss the contents of the final rule.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

National News

Take Action: Support Eliminating DIR Fees


A new drug pricing proposed rule from CMS, Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Expenses, eliminates retroactive pharmacy DIR as we know it today. Let CMS know that you support the proposed DIR provisions by submitting comments on the portal established by NCPA by January 25.

National Community Pharmacists Association

CDC Reports Increasing Flu Activity in US

CDC officials reported high influenza activity in 19 states and New York City, and 24 states had widespread activity during the week ending Dec. 29. Two additional pediatric deaths have been reported, bringing the season's total to 13, while influenza A strain H1N1 remains the most prevalent form.

HealthDay News (January 4, 2019) Reinberg, Steven

Democrats Seek Early Victories on Drug Prices

Newly empowered House Democrats plan to move first on smaller, bipartisan legislation to lower drug prices, hoping to notch some early victories before moving on to more sweeping measures, like allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Democrats targeted a number of measures that are smaller in scope but have support from some Republicans.

The Hill (January 9, 2019) Sullivan, Peter

Trump Summons Advisers to White House over Drug Price Hikes

President Trump summoned top officials for a White House meeting on drug prices, frustrated over a new round of price hikes after he promised to lower pharmaceutical costs. HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are among officials set to meet.

Politico (January 8, 2019) Diamond, Dan; Cancryn, Adam; Owermohle, Sarah

Grassley Not in Favor of Government Negotiating with Companies on Drug Prices

The new Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee squashed Democratic hopes of passing a proposal to allow the government to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower prescription drug prices. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he would pursue legislation to lower drug prices, but not pursue the proposal on negotiations.

The Hill (January 9, 2019) Hellmann, Jessie

Drug Development Office Proposed by FDA

The FDA has proposed creating the Office of Drug Evaluation Science to focus on advancing innovation in drug development, with divisions focused on research and implementation of clinical outcome measures, biomarker development, safety analytics and biomedical informatics.

BioCentury (January 8, 2019) Usdin, Steve

Big Pharma Protests Federal Drug Ad Regulations

Four large pharmaceutical companies filed comments opposing the federal proposal to require drug ads to display the products' list prices. Further responses are expected once the government officially decides on the regulation.

Fierce Pharma (January 2, 2019) Bulik, Beth

Trending News

This Bottle of Pills Costs $20 in One State and $130 in Another

A Bloomberg analysis of 90 big-selling generic drugs in Medicaid managed-care plans in 31 states found wide variations in the prices of medicine from state to state. In some states, Medicaid plans appear to be getting a good deal. In others, plans pay markups of threefold or more on some treatments.

Bloomberg News (January 2, 2019) Langreth, Robert; Ingold, David; Gu, Jackie

Cerner, CoverMyMeds Integrate Prescription Prices and Patient's Ability to Pay within EHR

Health care IT company Cerner and CoverMyMeds, which is part of McKesson Prescription Technology Solutions, are collaborating to enhance prescription price transparency by integrating prescription prices into the electronic health record (EHR) for providers and patients. The solution is expected to help inform providers as they make clinical decisions so a patient can afford the drug prescribed and avoid non-adherence.

Healthcare Finance News (January 3, 2019) Morse, Susan

Costs for Opioid Overdose Patients in ICU Average $20,500

A Premier study found the annual cost of caring for patients with an opioid overdose totaled $1.94 billion at 647 US health care facilities. Overdose patients treated and admitted to the hospital had an average cost of $11,731, while those admitted to an ICU had average costs of $20,500.

Healthcare Informatics (January 3, 2019) Hagland, Mark

How Insurers Kept Extra Cash from Medicare

Most health insurers' forecasts for providing prescription-drug benefits to more than 40 million people on Medicare have, thanks to Medicare's payment rules, resulted in more revenue for the firms. The insurers kept $9.1 billion more in taxpayer funds than they would have had their estimates been accurate from 2006 to 2015.

Wall Street Journal (January 5, 2019) Walker, Joseph; Weaver, Christopher

Extreme Temperatures May Pose Risks to Some Mail-Order Meds

Most prescription bottles say, "Store at room temperature" or "Keep refrigerated." But what happens when drugs are delivered by mail? Were those instructions followed? Prescriptions fulfilled by mail accounted for nearly 1/4 of total U.S. spending on prescriptions. Mail order is a money saver for PBMs, and they've touted the potential advantages.

National Public Radio (January 7, 2019) Smith, Alex

Generic Drug Maker Formed by Hospitals Attracts a Dozen More Members

A dozen large hospital systems have joined Civica Rx, a fledgling not-for-profit generic manufacturer that was created last year by seven other big hospital groups with $100 million in backing from philanthropic organizations. All totaled, about 750 U.S. hospitals have joined the effort, a sign of growing frustration among hospitals over pricing practices.

Stat (January 7, 2019) Silverman, Ed

Gene Therapy Primer for Pharmacists

When people hear the term 'gene therapy,' many think of a futuristic technology to treat disease, while others may have questions about the ethics of the application for nonmedical uses. Survey data, meanwhile, shows that public perception of gene therapy has been increasing over the years, a trend which is likely to increase.

Pharmacy Times (January 2, 2019) O'Shea, Timothy

California Implementing Direct-Purchasing Model for Medicaid Drugs

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order directing state Medicaid managers to negotiate prescription drug prices for all beneficiaries. The state will compile a list of drugs for bulk purchasing or price negotiations, and other governmental agencies, private-sector companies and insurers and will be invited to join the pact.

Reuters (January 7, 2019) Bernstein, Sharon

Price Hikes, Not Innovation, Push Drug Spending Higher

Price increases on existing drugs — not expensive, new drugs — accounted for the lion's share of increases in drug spending, according to a study published in Health Affairs. Average prices for brand-name oral drugs rose by more than 9% annually, and prices on injectable drugs rose by more than 15% annually from 2008 through 2016.

National Public Radio (January 7, 2019) Kodjak, Alison

Cardinal Health Acquires Mirixa from NCPA

Cardinal Health, Inc. has acquired Mirixa Corp., a leading provider of technology-enabled solutions for the provision of medication therapy management services, from NCPA. The business will integrate into OutcomesMTM, a pioneer in the MTM market, at Cardinal Health. Cardinal says the merging of these technology platforms will simplify workflow.

National Community Pharmacists Association (January 8, 2019)

Drugmaker Won't Put Price in TV Ads, but Patients Can Look It Up

Eli Lilly & Co. won’t put the price of its prescription drugs in television ads, as the Trump administration has called for pharmaceutical companies to do, but will instead offer patients a link to a website with information about prescription costs. The company will start airing television ads touting the website lillypricinginfo.com, along with a toll-free number.

Bloomberg News (January 8, 2019) Koons, Cynthia

Scientists Seek Ways to Finally Take Real Measure of Pain

Health officials are pushing for development of a pain meter, the first objective way to measure it. The NIH stresses the goal isn't a lie detector for pain, but to spur better treatment. A device that peeks into patients' eyes is among the approaches in early-stage studies. Patterns of pupil reactions could signal pain, and what drug might help.

Associated Press (January 10, 2019) Neergaard, Lauran

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Free Member CE: DEA Update
Fulfills the Texas State Board of Pharmacy's opioid CE requirement

Texas Pharmacy Today
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Texas Pharmacy Association

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

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