GPhA’s Advani waxes technological

Check it out: GPhA board member and pharmacist Ashish Advani has an article in Forbes, “How Prepared Are We For The Predicted Burst Of Technological Progress in 2021?”

Today, most commercial flying is already done by auto-pilot, most stock market trading is done by algorithms, and real estate agents, drivers, travel agents and waiters also currently find themselves on the tipping point of a similar revolution. Technology has impacted, and will continue to impact, every industry without bias; but perhaps none more than healthcare, which I’ve seen firsthand from my pharmaceutical company.

Georgia looks at Medicaid’s future

Post-ACA-repeal-effort, Georgia’s leaders are looking at Medicaid waivers and other ways to keep the state’s rural hospitals open and get healthcare for the state’s poor… without costing more or relying too much on Federal dollars.

Opioids at home

Whitfield County is on track to see double the number of opioid overdoses this year as in the last two.

[W]hile prescription painkillers account for some of those overdoses […] they aren’t the biggest culprit.

“The big things are a drug we haven’t seen for a long time, heroin. That’s making a comeback. And the other thing is fentanyl.”

Urgent, urgent, [public health] emergency

The White House’s commission on the epidemic recommended that Trump declare a national emergency. It also wants Medicaid to allow more lower-income people to receive addiction treatment. Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency regarding the opioid addiction. (Technically Alaska calls it a disaster declaration.)

What would declaring an emergency mean? Waivers of certain Medicare and Medicaid limits, for example. Check out the gov’ment’s “Public Health Emergency” website.

Express Scripts, CVS release 2018 formularies

Express Scripts has released its 2018 formulary, and at least 64 brand-name drugs are off the list. Out: Neupogen (filgrastim). In: biosimilar Zarxio (filgrastim-sndz). Out: Forteo (teriparatide) as well as two of Valeant Pharmaceuticals’s big sellers.

CVS is removing 17 drugs from its formulary and making some other changes (e.g., Xtandi and Levitra are back; Elelyso and Horizant are gone. (Note: The company’s list is hard to understand. Drugs with a “P” or “NP” are being added, while those without the letters are being removed.)

Do you really need to finish your antibiotics?

You absolutely must take your full course of antibiotics, right? That’s been the conventional wisdom to prevent antibiotic-resistant drugs. But that might not be right.

A July 27 paper in the British Medical Journal, “The antibiotic course has had its day,” points out that “With little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course contributes to antibiotic resistance, it’s time for policy makers, educators, and doctors to drop this message.”

One physician wholeheartedly agrees, writing:

[I]n the last two decades, we actually have had dozens of clinical trials published demonstrating that shorter courses of antibiotics are just as effective as longer courses. Furthermore, the shorter-course regimens led to lower rates of antibiotic resistance.

An idea so crazy it just … might … work

A group of 21 Republicans (soon to be 22) and 22 Democrats in the House are — wait for it — working together to craft a reasonable series of fixes for the Affordable Care Act.

They call themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus. And get this: They’ve already agreed on the major fixes for Obamacare.

Their ideas:

  • Continue the cost-reduction payments for insurance companies (see below).
  • Relax the ACA’s employer mandate so it only applies to companies with 500 or more employees, not 50 or more.
  • Define “full time” as 40 or more hours per week, not 30.
  • Give money to states “for reinsurance and other strategies to reduce premiums.”

Georgia members include Reps. John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, and Jack Kingston.

Meanwhile, the weather forecast for Hell apparently calls for a chance of flurries.

ACA update

The issue emerging: payments to insurance companies. The ACA requires the federal government to pay insurance companies so lower-income people can afford insurance. But the Trump administration has threatened to stop those payments “in an effort to trigger the collapse of Obamacare,” as Bloomberg put it.

Insurance companies and now at least 17 states are taking the government to court. Insurers want their promised payments, and states don’t want to see insurers pull out of exchanges if they don’t get them.