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Practice Transformation

Transportation and social support are emerging as a critical barrier as older adults try to access COVID-19 vaccines. Seniors without family or friends to help them land vaccine appointments are at a disadvantage. Elders who can’t drive and don’t have anyone to take them to the vaccine site are also missing out. “The question is ‘Who’s going to actually get vaccines?’—older adults who are tech-savvy, with financial resources and family members to help them, or harder-to-reach populations?” asks Abraham Brody, an associate professor of nursing and medicine at New York University. (Kaiser Health News)
High doses of zinc and vitamin C were not associated with improvement in COVID-19 infections, according to a small study published last week in JAMA Network Open. Both supplements have seen increased sales because many consumers believe they can boost the immune system. Of note, this study doesn’t rule out the potential COVID-related benefit of all supplements: “Recent studies have also demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and an increased risk of hospitalization, so the potential role of other supplements in decreasing SARS-CoV-2 symptoms cannot be concluded from our study.” (CIDRAPJAMA Network Open)
Evidence & Innovation
The Biden administration is considering creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to support health care innovations, according to Fast Company. It would pay academics and private companies to develop innovative health products and services, along the lines of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose work helped create the internet. The goal: a government engine that could help advance innovation that could solve persistent problems: high drug costs, lack of treatments for rare diseases, poor systems of care and pandemic preparedness. (Fast Company)
A judge in Hawaii on Monday ordered Bristol-Myers Squibb Co and Sanofi SA to pay more than $834 million to the state for not warning non-white patients properly of health risks from its blood thinner Plavix. According to the judge, the companies put patients at “grave risk of serious injury or death in order to substantially increase their profits” by failing to properly disclose that Plavix was ineffective for up to 30% of consumers in the state because of a common genetic variant. Studies have shown that about 14% of Chinese patients are unable to metabolize the drug properly, compared with 4% of Black and 2% of white patients. (Reuters)
Americans are becoming savvier about drug costs: A recent survey by software company CoverMyMeds found that 43% of patients surveyed used a pharmacy comparison app to find cheaper medication prices (up from 28% the previous year). However, although patients are willing to compare costs, they often don’t know where to start. But they are trying: 62% said they asked their provider about medication price and affordability options. (Becker’s Hospital Reviewsurvey results)

Policy Solutions

As the Biden administration advances its health care agenda, it must recognize the need for medication management reform, GTMRx Executive Director Katherine Capps writes in a commentary for MedCity News. “With over 10,000 drugs on the market today, appropriate, effective, safe and precise use of medication and gene therapies is more important now than ever before. Including high quality, patient-centered comprehensive medication management (CMM) services as the national standard of care will improve patient outcomes, reduce health care costs and save lives.” (MedCity News)
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In Case You Missed It!

The GTMRx Best Practices and Innovative Solutions (BPIS) Subgroup of the Practice and Care Delivery Transformation Workgroupis working on a comprehensive medication management (CMM) FAQ tool for physicians. The group is hosting physician focus groups to inform their work—which will be a part of a larger physician stakeholder package.
Please reach out to Izzy Serji, MPH, Operations Manager, GTMRx Institute (E: iserji@gtmr.org) if you or a physician you know is interested in helping on this initiative.
The AMA and ASHP (GTMRx founding funder) are committed to exploring the potential of pharmacogenomics-based selection, dosing and monitoring of medications to improve health outcomes. To further clinicians’ understanding of this emerging area of medicine, the AMA and ASHP are developing an informative series of virtually convened and facilitated webinars to evaluate the evidence base, identify and promote current best practices and guidance on the clinical application of pharmacogenomics and understand the health equity implications of adoption.
The webinars are free and will run February 17, February 24, March 2, March 11 and March 18. Register here.
Developed by the Best Practices and Innovative Solutions Subgroup of the Practice and Care Delivery Transformation Workgroup, learn how integrated health care organizations and health plans, such as Health Partners, have implemented successful programs designed to optimize medication use. This case offers insight into the programs’ impact on outcomes, clinician satisfaction, cost savings and patient satisfaction. Also included are details about program size and success factors. Read more.
Listen here.
Hosted by the GTMRx Institute’s executive director and co-founder, Katherine H. Capps, Voices of Change features leaders who have knowledge, experience and ideas to solve this urgent need to get the medications right. Did you miss the most recent episode? Liz Helms discuss the patient’s perspective in getting the medications right, saying, “[Patients] need to ask the questions. We need to understand why we’re taking that, and if we’re taking multiple medicines, then we need to understand if they all work together. And if they don’t all work together, then there should be conversations [on] what should we do to change that?”
Episodes feature:
  • Liz Helms, president and CEO of the California Chronic Care Coalition
  • Liz Fowler, JD, Ph.D., executive vice president for programs, The Commonwealth Fund
  • Amy Gutierrez, Pharm.D.,senior vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Kaiser Permanente
  • Amanda Brummel, PharmD, BCACP, vice president, Clinical Ambulatory Pharmacy Services, Fairview Pharmacy Services
  • Orsula V. Knowlton, PharmD, MBA, president and chief marketing & new business development officer, Tabula Rasa HealthCare
  • Anand Parekh, MD, chief medical advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Paul Grundy, MD, president, GTMRx; chief transformation officer, Innovaccer
AmazonSmile is an easy way for 0.5% of your qualified purchases go to the GTMRx Foundation at no cost to you. And signing up is simple—go to smile.amazon.com and select “Get the Medications Right Foundation” as your charity of choice. If you prefer to directly donate instead, you can do so here.
Adding the foundation on AmazonSmile will help us continue to provide no cost educational webinars, issue briefs, weekly news briefs and promote the need for transformation of our current system of medication use through social media campaigns.
The GTMRx Institute is supported by our Founding Funders, Executive Members and Strategic Partners.
  See past issues of our weekly news brief here
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