June 28 Pharmacy Week in Review: Study Shows Medical Marijuana Does Not Reduce Fatal Opioid Overdoses, PBM Reform in 1 State Could Have Implications on Federal Reform

Published Online: Friday, June 28th, 2019


This weekly video program provides our readers with an in-depth review of the latest news, product approvals, FDA rulings, and more. Our Week in Review is a can't miss for the busy pharmacy professional.

Nicole Grassano, Host: Hello and welcome to the Pharmacy Times News Network. I’m Nicole Grassano your host for our Pharmacy Week in Review.

A recent observational study through the CDC shows data demonstrating the importance of rotavirus vaccination on disease prevalence in the United States, Pharmacy Times reported.

In the study, laboratory testing data for rotavirus was analyzed through the CDC’s National Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Surveillance System during the pre-vaccine and post-vaccine periods. The investigators found that the median annual percentage of rotavirus tests declined significantly from 25.6% in the pre-vaccine period to 6.1% in the post-vaccine period and that vaccination reduced peak rotavirus activity and shortened the duration of the rotavirus season.

The rotavirus vaccinations, Rotarix and RotaTeq are given in 2 doses at 2 months and 4 months of age, and in 3 doses at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age, respectively. Pharmacists should advise parents that there is no catch-up vaccination like other immunization and the rotavirus vaccine series should not be started after 15 weeks of age.

The results of a new study through the Stanford University School of Medicine show that legalizing medical marijuana does not reduce the rate of fatal opioid overdoses, despite a previous 2014 study, Contemporary Clinic reported.

In the study, investigators evaluated the connection between fatal opioid overdoses and legalized medical marijuana. They originally confirmed the findings of the 2014 study. However, when they viewed the opioid deaths leading up to 2017, where many states had legalized some form of medical marijuana, they found that it contradicted it.

According to the authors, the results of the 2014 study may have reflected conditions and policies in states that legalized medical marijuana early. Often, they note, those states tended to be more politically liberal and wealthier, with greater access to addiction treatment and naloxone. Currently, 47 states permit some version of medical marijuana.

Ohio’s recent efforts to address pharmacy benefit manager practices may have implications for further federal and state reform, Specialty Pharmacy Times reported.

A 2018 independent audit examined the impact of Ohio Medicaid’s switch in 2011 from a fee-for-service model to a managed-care model to administer its outpatient prescription drug benefits, according to the authors. The audit indicated that the switch to a managed-care program, which uses PBMs, saved the Ohio Medicaid program $415 million annually and that savings were largely driven by the lower prescription claim prices billed to plans by PBMs.
 
However, the authors noted that Ohio pharmacists expressed concerns on pricing practices employed by PBMs, using tactics such as “spread pricing” which charges higher Ohio Medicaid prices while paying pharmacies lower prices for the same drugs. Such practices are leading states to seek PBM reform.

Pharmacists may get more questions about Xarelto, if patients have seen a recent commercial for the prescription medication. In the spot, called “Not Today: Movie Theater,” the narrator explains that, with Xarelto, patients do not have to halt their day due to a stroke caused by atrial fibrillation. According to the commercial, Xarelto is a prescription medication meant to treat atrial fibrillation and reduce the chance of stroke in those patients not caused by a heart valve problem.

Thanks for watching our Pharmacy Week in Review. I’m Nicole Grassano at the Pharmacy Times News Network.

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