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Practice Transformation

Drug wholesale list price increases in 2010-2016 led to a rise in payer spending and out-of-pocket costs for patients, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open. Adjusting for inflation, median patient out-of-pocket costs for specialty medications rose by 85%; non-specialty medications rose by 42%. “This finding suggests that, although discounts and rebates significantly reduce the amount paid for drugs and have increased over the past several years, they have not prevented an inflation-adjusted rise in patients’ and insurers’ costs. This could have both important clinical implications for patient outcomes and an impact on total health care expenditures,” researchers conclude. (HealthPayer IntelligenceJAMA Open Network)

According to a recent CDC-issued Health Alert Network, drug overdose deaths are at the highest number ever recorded in a 12-month period. Approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the U.S. in the 12 months ending May 2020, with the largest spike after the COVID-19 public health emergency (March-May 2020). Drug overdose deaths were rising before March, but the findings suggest they accelerated during COVID-19, the agency said. (MedPage Today*; Health Alert Network advisory)

Evidence & Innovation

Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific officer of Operation Warp Speed recently asked Moderna and the FDA to halve the dose of the vaccine for those 18 to 55. Similar ideas have been floating around elsewhere, but the FDA is having none of it. Deviating from the tested and approved protocols could undermine the vaccination efforts, warns FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. “Suggesting changes to the FDA-authorized dosing or schedules of these vaccines is premature and not rooted solidly in the available evidence.” (Kaiser Health NewsBloomberg)
One major obstacle to precision medicine is getting the right information to doctors in a format they can use. “The critical information has to be on one page. The clinician has to be able to interpret it in one minute,” Daniel Rhodes, co-founder and CEO of Strata Oncology, a genomic testing and data company, tells MedCity News. But today, genetic test results and treatment guidance often arrive in a lengthy format that can take time to decipher. Only 11% of patients say their doctors have discussed or recommended personalized treatment options, according to a Personalized Medicine Coalition report. (MedCity Newsreport)

Policy Solutions

Internal company documents made public as part of the Justice Department lawsuit against Walmart show pharmacists across the country warned Walmart executives about opioid sales that appeared unsafe. A pharmacist at a Walmart store in Texas said filling opioid prescriptions “is a risk that keeps me up at night.” For its part, Walmart said it acted responsibility and that it’s up to government regulators, not Walmart, to crack down on dangerous pill-mill doctors. “By demanding pharmacists and pharmacies second-guess doctors, the Justice Department is putting pharmacists and pharmacies between a rock and a hard place,” Walmart said in a statement. (NPR)
Primary care clinicians have been severely affected by COVID-19; at least one study found they accounted for the highest percentage of physician deaths. Yet, only 23% of primary care providers know where they’ll get a vaccine, according to a December survey. One reason: Many are not affiliated with hospitals; they have no direct connection to vaccine distribution. “We feel like we’re the true front line. We see these patients before they go to the hospital or ER,” Dr. Jason Lofton, a primary care doctor in De Queen, Ark., tells STAT News. “We want to make sure we’re not forgotten.”(STAT News)
Note: sources that have an asterisk require login to view the article.

In Case You Missed It!

CURA Health Policy Profiles™ is a newly-released comprehensive resource detailing the health care backgrounds and policy positions of 65 new members of the incoming Congress. It is available for free in both e-book and searchable database and includes the profiles of Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), a PharmD, owner of specialty pharmacy and member of the National Community Pharmacy Association, and Jerry Carl (R-AL), a specialty pharmacy business owner.
The Get The Medications Right Institute (GTMRx) workgroups have developed a set of Tools from Our Experts to advocate for medication management reform. These tools are designed to be useful resources for all stakeholders, and we believe these will be vital to optimize medication use through CMM in practice. We encourage you to share them, post them and use them to advocate for medication management reform. Get a sneak peek at these guidance documents here. (Note: In January, website enhancements will include a sortable feature.)
Primary care physicians face overwhelming pressure right now—and not just because of the pandemic. Even in the best of times, we ask too much from them. Instead of letting them be healers and diagnosticians, we make them responsible for every aspect of patient care. A large part of that responsibility is finding the right medication for the right patient. Not only is this a huge burden on the doctor—it’s also the wrong approach to medication management. We must address the burden and we must improve medication outcomes. After all, 73.9% of primary care visits involve medication prescribing. Read more here.
In a recent episode, GTMRx executive director Katie Capps appeared on GenXy’s Precision Insights Podcast. The series consists of inspiring conversations around precision medicine with industry thought leaders and innovators where they share the most cutting-edge technologies, processes and initiatives in precision and personalized medicine. ?Katie discussed some common myths around CMM, how it differs from MTM, how PGx can be used to optimize medication and how we can integrate PGx into the CMM process to reap genomic and personalized medicine’s full benefits. Be sure to listen? here.
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?
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 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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