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Practice Transformation

A computer program called Sam invented the drug combination for a flu vaccine that will be tested in the U.S. this year. Researchers in Australia provided the artificial intelligence program with information about drugs that did and did not work on four flu strains selected by the World Health Organization. Then Sam recommended a drug combination that could be effective “and sure enough, it worked,” researchers say. (ABC News)
Electronic health records vendor Allscripts acquired ZappRx last week, a startup designed to speed up the time it takes for physicians to prescribe patients the specialty drugs they need to treat complex diseases by streamlining consent and physician orders. The move allows Allscripts to diversify offerings of its Veridigm software, reporting and workflow portfolio. (CNBC)

Evidence & Innovation

Scientists testing a new gene editing therapy are now able to selectively disable one defective gene within 3 billion in a mouse genome. The refined CRISPR/Cas9 technique can selectively edit a defective gene that’s inherited from just one parent, leaving its matched, but normal gene from the other parent unaffected. Testing on mice with the gene for progressive hearing loss resulted in mice retaining near-normal hearing. The results hold promise for treating many other, genetically-linked diseases. (Science Codex)
Take fish oil for heart health. Ginkgo biloba protects against dementia. Testosterone reduces memory loss. These and other conventional beliefs were reversed in medical journals, but practitioners still widely counsel patients to take medications with no proven benefits. Between 2011 and 2017, more than one in 10 studies published in the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine had findings that were “medical reversals,” or the flip side of conventional wisdom. (The New York Times)

Policy Solutions

Evidence shows that reducing net profit potential for new drugs doesreduce R&D investment, but the case for other kinds of R&D incentives has yet to be made. For example, strategies to bring orphan drugs to market, such as extending exclusive status in the market, tax breaks and fast-tracked approval pathways, don’t always result in lower prices. Until policymakers can show alternate incentives are worth the risk, manufacturers will focus on R&D efforts that promise to claim high price tags. (Health Affairs)
Seniors faced with high out-of-pocket costs for medications are less likely to buy them or may ration them, research finds. The study’s co-author said that when people can’t take medications as prescribed, they’re more likely to need emergency room care or hospital admission. Asking patients whether they have trouble paying for medications and then offering alternative treatments could mitigate the problem.(Reuters)
Comprehensive medication management (CMM) is a team sport, with the potential to improve patient care and access while optimizing the skills of all clinicians on the team. The Veterans Health Administration has systematically integrated clinical pharmacy specialists into the care team to accomplish CMM for a range of chronic conditions. This webinar gives an overview of the practice model and shares outcomes of CMM integration, as well as a discussion of the tools that support the team. (see the slideswatch the recording)
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