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Friday, August 7, 2020
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TSBP Votes to Propose Rules to Expand Technician Ratios, Duties
Garza Testifies at TSBP Meeting
CEO Debbie Garza provides public comments via videoconference on behalf of TPA concerning pharmacy technician ratio and duties at TSBP's August meeting.

At its August 4 meeting, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) considered the proposal of rules concerning expansion of both the pharmacist-to-technician ratio and pharmacy technician duties in multiple pharmacy settings. In public comments, the Texas Pharmacy Association noted that "it is important to evaluate the realities community pharmacists face today and the evolving role of pharmacists in providing patient-care services, while simultaneously ensuring public safety. Recognizing the many operational and financial challenges that pharmacies experience, we must optimize the roles of all pharmacy personnel."

As a result of the meeting, rules for Class A (community) and Class B (nuclear) pharmacies will be proposed in the Texas register and provided for public comment including an expanded 1:6 pharmacist-to-pharmacy technician ratio and a permanent allowance for registered pharmacy technicians (not trainees) under the supervision and delegation of a pharmacist and as allowed per DEA requirements for controlled substances to:

  • receive oral prescription drug orders and reduce these orders to writing, either manually or electronically,
  • transfer or receive a transfer of original prescription information on behalf of a patient, and
  • contact a prescriber for information regarding an existing prescription.

No action was taken regarding expansion of technician duties in a Class C (institutional) or Class F (freestanding EMC) pharmacy. Class G (central processing) and satellite pharmacy rules will be proposed to expand technician duties and eliminate the ratio. TSBP will also propose rules for non-pharmacist pharmacy owners to take a Board-created ownership training course.

TSBP will vote for final adoption of the above proposed rules at its November board meeting.

TSBP approved for final adoption amendments for use of automated pharmacy systems in a healthcare facility for outpatients.

TPA Board Holds August Meeting
TPA Board Meeting 8-6-20

During its August 6 meeting, the Texas Pharmacy Association's Board of Directors received the 2019 financial audit report from the Association's external auditor and discussed the success of the recent 2020 TPA Virtual Conference & Expo. Board members also reviewed membership and discussed progress of the newly formed Independent Pharmacy Academy. The Board will hold its annual orientation for newly elected members as part of a virtual Leadership Retreat in September.

TPA Board of Directors Election Ends Tuesday

Eligible pharmacist and pharmacist technician members may cast their ballots in the 2020 TPA Board of Directors election through midnight on Tuesday, August 11. 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.

TPA Members Donate Hour per Month to PharmPAC

Is your profession worth an hour a month? For a number of TPA members, the answer is yes! Investing in your future has never been more important—and it’s never been easier. Simply commit to a monthly contribution equal to approximately one hour’s wage:

  • Pharmacists: $60
  • Pharmacy Technicians: $15
  • Students: $10

View a list of 2020 PharmPAC donors online.

Is Your Profession Worth One Hour per Month?
Choose Your PharmPAC Donation Today!


Uniform Opioid Policy Begins Sept. 1

Effective Sept. 1, 2020, Texas Medicaid’s Vendor Drug Program (VDP) will implement a uniform opioid policy across fee-for-service and managed care to encourage appropriate use and reduce opioid over-prescribing. The opioid policy does not apply to people receiving hospice care or palliative care, treatment for cancer, residents of a long-term care facility or another facility for which residents receive opioid substitution therapy for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD), or other people Texas HHS elects to exempt based on an objective, confirmable physical pathology known to cause severe chronic pain not ameliorated by other therapies and for which opioid treatment is appropriate.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (July 31, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

Generic Albuterol Products Return to Non-preferred Status Aug. 28

In response to reported drug shortages for albuterol products in the Bronchodilators, Short-Acting Beta Agonist Inhalers drug class, Texas Medicaid’s Vendor Drug Program (VDP) temporarily removed the non-preferred status from the generic formulations on March 20. VDP will reverse this change in status because we determined sufficient availability in the market. VDP made this determination after verifying the current availability of the preferred products ProAir and Proventil, as well as generic albuterol products through multiple sources such as ASHP, FDA, manufacturers, wholesalers, and pharmacies in various regions around Texas.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (July 31, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

Clinical Prior Authorization Assistance Chart Now Available

The quarterly update to the Clinical Prior Authorization Assistance Chart is now available. The chart shows the clinical prior authorizations each MCO uses and how those prior authorizations relate to the clinical prior authorizations used for traditional Medicaid claim processing. Providers can also refer to the MCO Resources for a link to each MCO’s active clinical prior authorizations.

Texas Health and Human Services (August 5, 2020) Vendor Drug Program

Deadline Extended to Apply for Medicaid, CHIP Federal COVID-19 Relief

Gov. Greg Abbott and HHSC on Wednesday announced that the federal government has further extended the deadline to apply for the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund. The deadline has now been extended to Aug. 28, 2020, for Medicaid and CHIP providers as the state responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of the Texas Governor (August 5, 2020) Abbott, Greg

Poloyac Appointed Dean of UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy

The University of Texas at Austin has named Dr. Samuel Poloyac the next dean of the College of Pharmacy. He will begin serving Oct. 15. Poloyac is a professor of pharmaceutical sciences and the associate dean for graduate and postdoctoral programs at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. His research contributions are in the field of critical care pharmacology.

The University of Texas at Austin (August 5, 2020) Nobel, Nick

US Sending Texas Hospitals 500 Cases of Remdesivir

The U.S. government is sending Texas hospitals 500 cases of antiviral drug remdesivir as coronavirus deaths in the Lone Star State hit record highs. The cases of the drug, produced by Gilead Sciences, will be enough to treat 3,200 patients. HHS announced June 29 a deal that gives the U.S. more than 500,000 treatment courses for hospitals through September.

CNBC (July 29, 2020) Lovelace, Berkeley

Tiny Texas Company Running Most of Drive-thru COVID-19 Testing

The company, eTrueNorth, doesn’t run COVID-19 tests, ship them to and from labs, or employ the staff at testing sites. Instead, the company is acting as a kind of conductor, helping to oversee a patchwork of clinical laboratories, pharmacy staff, and technical infrastructure. The company's federal contracts help oversee more than 350 sites and pay for the tests.

Stat (August 3, 2020) Sheridan, Kate


Using Pharmacists to Provide Care in Rural Areas

The increased need for medical care and prescription drugs, coupled with scarcity of primary care physicians in rural areas, exacerbates many barriers to accessing necessary health care. Maximizing the use of pharmacists as part of the health care delivery system is among several state strategies to meet the unique health care needs of rural and underserved areas.

National Conference of State Legislatures (August 3 2020) George, Kelsie

FDA Would Clear Coronavirus Vaccine if Safe and at Least 50% Effective

The Food and Drug Administration would authorize a coronavirus vaccine so long as it is safe and at least 50% effective, the agency’s commissioner, Dr. Stephen Hahn, said. He added that the minimum requirement of 50% effectiveness also helped give vaccine manufacturers guidance on how to design their clinical trials.

CNBC (July 30, 2020) Feuer, Will and Lovelace, Berkeley

CMS and CDC Announce Reimbursement for Counseling at COVID-19 Test

CDC and CMS will pay clinicians to counsel patients about the importance of self-isolation while awaiting results of testing for the novel coronavirus. CMS will use existing evaluation and management payment codes to reimburse providers who are eligible to bill the agency for counseling services, including at community drive-thru or pharmacy testing sites.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (July 30, 2020)

NIH Delivering New COVID-19 Testing Technologies to Meet U.S. Demand

The National Institutes of Health is investing $248.7 million in new technologies to address challenges associated with COVID-19 testing. NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative has awarded contracts to seven biomedical diagnostic companies to support a range of new lab-based and point-of-care tests that could significantly increase their availability.

National Institutes of Health (July 31, 2020)

FDA Chief: Hydroxychloroquine Use a Decision Between Doctor and Patient

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn declined to take a definitive stance on whether people should take hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, instead saying that decision should be made between a doctor and a patient. “We had data that when this drug was combined with others, there was some risk associated with that,” Hahn said.

The Hill (July 30, 2020) Axelrod, Tal

Vaccine Distribution Will Be ‘Joint Venture’ Between CDC, Pentagon

Nationwide distribution of any coronavirus vaccine will be a “joint venture” between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which typically oversees vaccine allocation, and the Department of Defense. The DOD “is handling all the logistics,” while CDC will remain in charge of tracking any side effects that emerge post-vaccination.

Politico (July 30, 2020) Owermohle, Sarah

CDC Warns Against Ingesting Hand Sanitizer After Reports of Poisonings

The CDC on Wednesday issued a health warning against the ingestion of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products following reports of poisonings in the U.S. The agency said that poison centers in Arizona and New Mexico reported 15 cases of methanol poisoning associated with the swallowing of hand sanitizer in May and June. Four of the patients hospitalized died.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (August 5, 2020) Yip, Luke, et al

Trump Testing Czar Says Most COVID-19 Results Coming Back Within 3 Days

The Trump administration official in charge of the United States's COVID-19 testing strategy said backlogs are improving and most lab results are coming back within three days or less. COVID-19 outbreaks in the south and west have strained laboratory testing capacity, leading to turnaround times of several days or even weeks, hampering virus containment efforts.

The Hill (July 30, 2020) Hellmann, Jessie

U.S. to Pay Sanofi and GSK $2.1 Billion for COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed effort will provide up to $2.1 billion to Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline to fund development and manufacturing of the companies’ experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which will begin human trials in September. The companies will provide the U.S. with 100 million doses of the vaccine, with the option to procure up to 500 million doses.

Stat (July 31, 2020) Herper, Matthew

House Bill Opens Door to National Patient ID System

The US House of Representatives approved a six-bill package that includes an amendment revoking a rule prohibiting federal expenditures on the promulgation or adoption of a unique patient identifier system. If it passes the Senate, HHS would be able to develop a nationwide patient-matching strategy, which could improve continuity of care and reduce medical errors.

Healthcare Finance (July 31, 2020) Hackett, Mallory


Pharmacy Ready to Lead Immunization Charge with COVID-19 Vaccine

It could soon be the pharmacy's time to shine particularly bright. As pharmaceutical manufacturers sign deals for clinical trials and distribution of possible future COVID-19 vaccines, industry organizations are signaling that pharmacy can play a critical role in actually administering the millions of doses needed to curb the pandemic.

Drug Store News (July 31, 2020) Levy, Sandra

On Pins and Needles: Will COVID-19 Vaccines ‘Save the World’?

Innovators are sprinting to develop inoculations against the novel coronavirus. This summary provides the latest information on research timelines and the potential impact of a vaccine on the pandemic—and society. The study examines a range of potential immunization and demand scenarios.

McKinsey & Company (July 29, 2020) Agrawal, Gaurav, et al

Prescription Drug Marketplace GoodRx Files for IPO

U.S. online prescription drug price marketplace GoodRx Inc has submitted paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a potential initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter. GoodRx, valued at $2.8 billion in 2018 when private equity firm Silver Lake invested in the company, is in the process of hiring advisers for the IPO.

Reuters (August 2, 2020) Franklin, Joshua and Sen, Anirban

Children May Carry Coronavirus at High Levels, Study Finds

A small, new study in JAMA Pediatrics found that children who contract COVID-19 have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats compared with infected adults. Children younger than age 5 years may carry up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults. The tests looked for viral RNA rather than live coronavirus.

New York Times (July 30, 2020) Mandavilli, Apoorva

Seasonal Flu Reports Hit Record Lows amid Global Social Distancing

Global social distancing rules targeting coronavirus have pushed influenza infection rates to a record low, early figures show, signalling that the measures are having an unprecedented impact on other communicable diseases. In China, where the earliest wide-scale lockdown measures began, influenza cases have seen a sharp drop off.

Reuters (July 31, 2020) Cadell, Cate

2020 Flu Shot Strategy: Get Yours Early in the Season

Flu shots will be in stock at doctors' offices, pharmacies and supermarkets by early September. Because of changes wrought by COVID-19, now is the time to start thinking about when, how and where you'll get immunized against the flu this year. Pharmacies and doctors' offices are trying to be as creative as possible to allay the fears some people have expressed.

National Public Radio (August 4, 2020) Kritz, Fran

Medicines May Be More Affordable than You Think — Unless You Pay Cash

Amid growing complaints that many Americans cannot afford their prescription medicines, most people who have insurance are paying lower out-of-pocket costs, but cash-paying customers are shelling out significantly more than five years ago, according to a new analysis. Commercially insured prescription costs declined from $10.83 to $8.90 during that time.

Stat (August 4, 2020) Siilverman, Ed

Women Taking Contraceptive Pill Less Likely to Develop Serious Coronavirus

Women who take the pill are less likely to develop serious coronavirus, a major new study has found, helping explain why men have suffered worse from the disease. Analysis of more than half a million women by King's College London during May and June has identified the crucial role of estrogen in protecting against COVID-19.

Yahoo News (August 4, 2020) Bodkin, Henry

Retail Pharmacy's Move Into Health Care Paying Off

Beyond the rankings of J.D. Power's annual "U.S. Pharmacy Study," the provider of consumer insights found that major pharmacy chains’ expansion into primary care was leading to considerable increases in both customer satisfaction and spending. It’s clear that pharmacy operators are positioning themselves to become hubs of consumer health care.

Retail Leader (August 5, 2020) Goldschmidt, Bridget

Antibiotics Makers Struggle to Stay Afloat

Two of the 12 companies that won FDA approval for new antibiotics over the past decade are out of business, at a time when the need for a robust and renewable pipeline of antibiotics has really never been greater. The US hasn't invested in research on bacterial and fungal infections, and the result is a dry antibiotics pipeline.

PBS News Hour (July 29, 2020) Solman, Paul

Shift to Home Care Creates Challenges for LTC Pharmacists

The COVID-19 pandemic is shifting more care from institutions to home, and long-term care pharmacies that typically serve assisted living, skilled nursing facilities, and group homes are adapting to the changes. Regulatory and payment issues are challenges that long-term care pharmacies face as they care for patients in the home, which can be very complex.

Pharmacy Times (July 23, 2020) Antrim, Aislinn

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Texas Pharmacy Today
Editor: Brian Sparks, Division Director, Communications and Marketing
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Texas Pharmacy Association
Debbie Garza, R.Ph., Chief Executive Officer
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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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