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Association News

2018 Conference & Expo: Together Pharmacy Advances!

Steve Anderson of NACDS speaks at the 2018 TPA ConferenceThe theme of the 2018 TPA Conference & Expo was clear: Together Pharmacy Advances! That message was first emphasized during Friday's opening session by Steve Anderson, President and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). State Senator Charles Schwertner, the only pharmacist in the Texas Legislature and chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, was just one of many speakers who reiterated the message that pharmacists should speak with one voice at the capitol in order to accomplish their goals for their profession. And as TPA CEO Debbie Garza told the audience, "A brighter future is ours to write. Let's begin this new chapter—together!"

Attendees had the opportunity to earn more than 16 hours of continuing education. More than two dozen sessions covered a wide range of topics: updates from the Texas State Board of Pharmacy and the Drug Enforcement Administration, clinical guidelines for allergic rhinitis and pain management, and special topics such as mental health and pharmacy technology. In between CE sessions, more than 70 exhibitors attracted the attention of conference-goers in the exhibit hall.

The weekend in The Woodlands included plenty of fun and games as well. The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy won the Jeopardy-style Student Pharmacist Self-Care Championship, paving the way for it to win the coveted TPA Academy of Student Pharmacists Cup. The President's Celebration at Bowlero offered food, bowling, arcades, and plenty of other fun activities. The leadership reception, past presidents' roundtable, and various alumni receptions allowed old friends to reconnect. And the 0.5K Fun Run (complete with a donut "fuel" station) was an event that must be seen to be believed!

Mark your calendars now for the 2019 TPA Conference & Expo, August 2–4 in Irving.


Roberson, Nelson Honored at Awards Luncheon

The annual Awards Luncheon at this year's TPA Conference & Expo included two special awards to recognize two longtime TPA staff members who are retiring this summer, representing a combined 56 years of service to the Association.

Kim Roberson, RPh, was recruited to join TPA from Arizona in 1996 and retired June 29 as division director of professional affairs. For more than 22 years, he worked to advance the profession of pharmacy in Texas and helped initiate a variety of innovative pharmacy programs. He also oversaw the Professional Recovery Network, a program of TPA. In her remarks, outgoing TPA President Mary Klein praised Roberson's service to the Association.

Sandra Nelson joined the TPA staff in 1984 and is leaving the Association July 27 after a remarkable 34 years of service. She currently serves as division director of administration and chief operating officer. In presenting Nelson's award, Past President Charlotte Weller thanked her for her dedication to TPA.

Carson Announces New Scholarship Honoring Parents

Jeff Carson announces John and Beverly Carson ScholarshipLast year's TPA Conference & Expo was marred by the news that longtime TPA member and past president John Carson and his wife Beverly had been killed in a single-vehicle accident on July 7, the opening day of the event. An innovative, generous, and legendary pharmacist, John served in pharmacy leadership positions at the local, state, and national level and was an inspirational friend and mentor to many within TPA.

This year, their son Jeff attended the conference to announce the formation of the John and Beverly Carson Scholarship, honoring his parents. The scholarship will be awarded to pharmacy students who meet certain criteria including completing the Student Pharmacists Advocacy and Relations (SPARx) Program, instituted last year to educate and engage students in advocating and building positive relationships with the community, inter-professional colleagues, legislative officials, and regulatory officials.

To contribute to the fund, donate online and designate "Carson Scholarship" in the comment section.

Foundation Raises Money for Scholarships and More

Texas Pharmacy FoundationThe Texas Pharmacy Foundation raised nearly $25,000 during the 2018 TPA Conference & Expo last weekend. The Silent Auction, Wine Toss, Student Pharmacist Self-Care Championship, and 0.5K Fun "Run" all contributed to the cause, in addition to those who joined the MCMLXX Society (commemorating TPF's founding in 1970). If you missed the action in The Woodlands, it's not too late to contribute! Donate online to the General Scholarship Fund, the MCMLXX Society (for as little as $19.70 per month), or the Disaster Relief Fund. Remember, donations to TPF are tax deductible.

PharmPAC Welcomes State Legislators at Annual Breakfast

Texas pharmacy professionals gathered to hear from two Houston-area state legislators Sunday morning at the annual PharmPAC Breakfast during the 2018 TPA Conference & Expo. Following a welcome by PharmPAC Chair Bruce Biundo, Representative Garnet Coleman, chair of the House Public Health Committee, spoke about the importance of pharmacists in his own life and offered insights into the political process at the state capitol based on his more than 25 years of legislative service. Representative Ed Thompson followed by highlighting the importance of PACs and discussed how pharmacists can influence health care policy in Texas.

PharmPAC is the political action committee of the Texas Pharmacy Association, with the single focus of supporting TPA's advocacy efforts and supporting elected officials and candidates for office who are pharmacy-friendly. Your voice is vital! Donate to PharmPAC today to make your voice heard.

Rep. Garnet Colman speaks with pharmacists at the PharmPAC breakfast   Rep. Garnet Colman speaks with pharmacists at the PharmPAC breakfast
Representatives Garnet Coleman (left) and Ed Thompson (right) meet with pharmacists following their remarks at the annual PharmPAC Breakfast.

Vote for TPA Board of Directors Candidates

The 2018 TPA Board of Directors election opened Monday. Eligible pharmacist and pharmacist technician members may cast their ballots online through midnight on Monday, July 30. Candidate biographies and statements are available online and appear in the Summer issue of Texas Pharmacy magazine. Your participation is powerful! Cast your ballot today.

Special thanks to our outgoing Board members, who were recognized at the recent TPA Conference for serving the Association with great distinction and dedication. The following are members of the Board with expiring terms:

  • Mary Klein, outgoing President
  • Raj Chhadua, outgoing Vice President
  • Rene Garza, outgoing Immediate Past President
  • Steven Pettit, outgoing Treasurer-Elect
  • Ron Jencopale, outgoing Director
  • Anjanette Wyatt, outgoing Director
  • Doug Ried, Outgoing Speaker of the House
  • Ben Sims, Outgoing Technician Director
  • Shawn Ahmad, outgoing student pharmacist representative.

In the State

HHSC Will No Longer Override Prescriber Enrollment Denials

As of July 27, federal regulation requires HHSC to deny pharmacy claims for people enrolled in traditional Medicaid when the ordering, referring or prescribing provider is not a participating Medicaid provider. Claim overrides when the prescriber is not enrolled will no longer be available. Pharmacy staff should notify the patient that they must use an enrolled Medicaid provider. The patient will need to work with their prescriber or contact the Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership client call center at 800-335-8957 for help finding a new prescriber. The prescriber may contact the TMHP provider line at 800-925-9126, Option 3.

These requirements do not impact pharmacy claims for people enrolled in Medicaid managed care or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Answers to frequently asked questions and informational flyers are available from the Vendor Drug Program website. More information about ordering, referring, and prescribing provider enrollment is available at tmhp.com.

Agenda for July Drug Utilization Review Board Meeting Now Available

The agenda for the Texas Drug Utilization Review Board meeting on Friday, July 27 is now available. Visit the Vendor Drug Program website for instructions on how to submit written materials to the board for review prior to the meeting and presenting during the meeting.

State Audit Finds Billion-Dollar Errors in Texas Health Agency’s Contracting Process

A new state audit has found that Texas’ health agency may have awarded more than $3.4 billion in contracts erroneously — another scandal at an agency that has lost six of its top leaders over the last several months in a wave of contracting disasters. The Texas State Auditor’s Office said Tuesday it had identified errors in the procurement formulas used by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in all 28 procurements it examined. One was the contract for the Children’s Health Insurance Program Rural Service Area, which provides services to poor Texas children in remote areas.

Texas Tribune (July 17, 2018) Platoff, Emma

Texans Missing or Delaying Needed Treatment Because Health Costs Too High

Six in 10 Texans say someone in their household has recently skipped or postponed needed health care and medication because the cost is now out of reach, according to a new national study. The study found that 61 percent of Texans skip or postpone health care due to its cost, which includes missing recommended tests or treatments, not filling prescriptions or even cutting medication in half to make the prescription last longer. Others report avoiding dental care or mental health treatment.

Houston Chronicle (July 11, 2018) Deam, Jenny

'Old School' Pharmacist Leads Best Value Pharmacies

Wayne West has been “old school” for decades, long before Mary’s lamb thought about following her to school. He’s “old school” for many reasons. The son of a sharecropper who grew up near Midlothian, TX, he’s come a long way from cotton fields and livestock pens to head Best Value pharmacies. He has been dispensing medications — personally compounded, in many instances — since doctors gave up prescribing leeches. He was encouraged by longtime pharmacist A. G. Hilley who encouraged him through pharmacy school at the University of Texas. Then, the late Hilley continued his role as mentor, employing him and later paving the way for West to move into ownership. West’s longest stints have been in Mineral Wells, 26 years, and Burleson since 1988. The group he heads has stores in 14 communities.

Weatherford Democrat (July 14, 2018) Newbury, Don

Educate Patients About Safety Dangers When Operating Vehicles

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy reminds pharmacists that they have a duty to educate their patients about the effects of medications and the importance of exercising caution when operating vehicles of any type. It is important for pharmacists to help patients understand how their medications may influence their ability to perform various activities in and outside of the health care environment, including preventing the patients from meeting employment demands for a period of time. This is particularly important for patients who may be starting a new medication. Information to share with patients may be obtained from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
National News

CMS Seeks Input on Health Care Price Transparency

The CMS released a request for information last week seeking public input on whether the agency should require health care providers and suppliers to inform patients in advance how much care will cost out-of-pocket. "We are concerned that challenges continue to exist for patients due to insufficient price transparency," the CMS wrote.

HealthLeaders Media (July 13, 2018) Porter, Steven

National Partners Address DIR Fees

Both the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) have submitted comments to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in response to the agency’s request-for-information on drug-pricing public policy issues. NCPA says it urged the Trump Administration to implement policies that would help lower costs for seniors and bring more transparency to the health care system—and a reprieve to locally owned community pharmacies. NCPA's letter urged that CMS consider eliminating pharmacy price concessions, known as DIR fees, altogether. NACDS maintained its call for direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fee reform and advocated on other issues including Medicaid pharmacy reimbursement based on average manufacturer price (AMP); pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) issues; biosimilars; the 340B Drug Discount Program; and more.

National Community Pharmacists Association (July 16, 2018)

National Association of Chain Drug Stores (July 16, 2018)

OIG Addresses Medicaid Managed Care Fraud, Abuse

The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has released a report, "Weaknesses Exist in Medicaid Managed Care Organizations' Efforts to Identify and Address Fraud and Abuse." In the report the OIG highlighted key weaknesses and issues eight recommendations to improve fraud and abuse identification.

HHS Office of Inspector General (July 11, 2018)

FDA: New Efforts to Empower Consumers by Advancing Access to Nonprescription Drugs

FDA announced Tuesday a new initiative to establish innovative approaches to increase access to a wider selection of nonprescription drug products for consumers. The goal, said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, is to empower consumers "to self-treat common conditions and potentially some chronic conditions."

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (July 17, 2018) Gottlieb, Scott

CMS Plans Changes to Medicare Part B Drug Payments

Changes to the payment amount for new drugs under Medicare Part B are proposed for next year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced last Thursday. Drugs administered in doctor's offices, such as infusions, are covered under Medicare Part B.

Reuters (July 12, 2018)

FDA to More Aggressively Tackle Disruptive Drug Shortages

The Food and Drug Administration said last Thursday it wants to more aggressively fight medication shortages that have led to rationing of some drugs and disrupted patient care. The agency announced plans for a task force to find ways to improve the supply of crucial drugs.

Associated Press (July 12, 2018) Johnson, Linda

Appeals Court Rejects Hospital Industry's Challenge on 340B Changes

An appeals court on Tuesday rejected an attempt by hospitals to challenge the Trump administration’s changes to the controversial federal drug discount program known as 340B, sticking them with a $1.6 billion cut in federal payments. The decision is the latest in a series of blows to hospitals trying to preserve the program.

Stat (July 17, 2018) Mershon, Erin

FDA Warns of Imposters Sending Consumers Fake Warning Letters

Some consumers who tried to buy medications online or over the phone have received fake letters that claim to be from FDA. Surveillance efforts indicate that instead of receiving the drug products they ordered, some individuals received official-looking, but fake, warning letters. The letters could be part of an international extortion scheme.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (July 13, 2018)

Commentary: Pharmacists Play Key Role in Managing Diabetes

Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, says a new guide from CDC "highlights the essential role pharmacists play in diabetes prevention and the broader role they can play with expanded pharmacy services to manage chronic conditions like diabetes."

Morning Consult (July 16, 2018) Anderson, Steven

Pharmacist Resources and Information from the CDC

Over the years, CDC has developed excellent resources for and about pharmacists—but sometimes they’re hard to find. The National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations has compiled links to topics including:

  • Pharmacists and the Opioid Crisis
  • Pharmacists and Tobacco Cessation
  • Pharmacists Role in Chronic Disease Prevention and Control
  • Pharmacists’ Impact on the Nation’s Health
  • Pharmacist and Management of Diabetes
  • Pharmacists and the Management of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Pharmacists and Immunizations
  • Continuing Education Resources from the CDC
  • Other Information

CDC also has a variety of resources available about collaborative practice agreements.

National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (July 6, 2018)

Trending News

Retooled Vaccine Raises Hopes as a Lower-Cost Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

The increasing cost of Type 1 diabetes, one of the most common serious chronic diseases, has created heavy financial burdens for families and generated controversy, with insulin prices more than doubling in the past decade. Without her parent’s insurance, “I would not be alive,” said Hodalis Gaytan, a student at the University of Maryland.

Kaiser Health News (July 13, 2018) Heredia Rodriguez, Carmen

Vitamin D May Not Protect Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

Researchers found no clear evidence that vitamin D has a protective effect against Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease or other neurodegenerative diseases, but they say exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays, independent of vitamin D production, may have a neuroprotective benefit.

Medical News Today (July 12, 2018) Paddock, Catharine

Including Pharmacists on Team Leads to Better Outcomes

A new article in the AMA Wire focuses on the improved patient outcomes that result when pharmacists are included in a team-based care model. An Oregon group has been including pharmacists on the team (through collaborative practice agreements) for more than 20 years, primarily to manage patients with diabetes, and has seen great results.

National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (July 13, 2018)

About 800,000 Additional Children with High Blood Pressure under New Guidelines

Though the CDC reported that the percentage of children with high blood pressure declined between 2001 and 2016, about 795,000 children are now classified as having the condition under new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Improved diet quality, blood pressure screening and pharmacological interventions led to the decline.

HealthDay (July 12, 2018) Mundell, E.J.

Researchers Create Smart Patch for Insulin Delivery

Newly developed smart patches could measure insulin levels and release insulin as needed in patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The prototype, which includes micro needles to deliver the insulin and a monitoring system designed to send data to the user's smartphone, would be a wearable patch system, probably replaced on a daily basis.

BBC (July 15, 2018)

Many Urgent Care Patients Who Get Antibiotics Don't Need Them

Antibiotics are often prescribed at urgent care centers for people with the common cold or other conditions for which antibiotics don't work, researchers report. An analysis of outpatient visits for patients younger than 65 showed 46% of those who went to urgent care centers with conditions for which antibiotics are ineffective still received prescriptions.

Reuters (July 16, 2018) Rapaport, Lisa

To Treat Gonorrhea, Researchers Increasingly Look to Bespoke Treatments

With antibiotic resistance on the rise, the days when doctors and clinics could rely on one treatment to cure all gonorrhea cases may be waning. In fact, clinicians may find that some of their patients respond best to drugs of the past. But how will they know which patients?

Stat (July 17, 2018) Branswell, Helen

Two-thirds of People Will Visit Pharmacist for Advice Rather than GP

Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of people say they choose to visit a pharmacist rather than a GP for advice on minor self-treatable ailments at least some of the time, research commissioned by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi shows.

The Pharmaceutical Journal (July 11 2018) Clews, Graham

Pharmacist Management of Hypertension Could Cut GP Workload

The majority of people starting a new antihypertensive medication could be supported by pharmacists without the need of seeing their GP again, a study of over 130,000 patients has suggested.

PulseToday (July 10, 2018) Mahase, Elisabeth

Communication Between Physicians, Pharmacists May Improve with eCare Plan

The Pharmacy HIT Collaborative launched the Pharmacist eCare Plan to help improve communication between pharmacists and physicians. The plan uses the pharmacist's current clinical documentation system to communicate clinical data, with the document written in HL7 language and format, and can be read by EHRs.

Physician's Briefing/HealthDay News (July 16, 2018)

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Texas Pharmacy Today
Editor: Brian Sparks, Division Director, Communications and Marketing
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Debbie Garza, R.Ph., Chief Executive Officer • (512) 615-9170

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