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Practice Transformation

By 2030, pharmacists will likely have little to do with dispensing and much more to do with clinical outcomes. One implication of this transformation is that pharmacists will need to take a very involved pharmacogenomics role with patients and providers, says Jaclyn Boyle, PharmD, MS, PhD, associate professor of pharmacy practice at Northeast Ohio Medical University. “Pharmacogenomics data can help inform decisions about whether a patient should try a medication, stay on it, whether a given med is going to either positively or negatively impact the patient,” she tells Drug Topics. (Drug Topics)
Developments in telehealth will be vital tools for combatting COVID-19 for pharmacists and clinicians alike. “A large part of a pharmacist’s role in patient care is education and counseling,” explains Eric M. Maroyka, PharmD, BCPS, director of ASHP Center on Pharmacy Practice. Through telehealth, pharmacists can, among other things, improve patient access to care and enable successful comprehensive medication management, help triage and refer patients to higher levels of care when diagnostic testing is warranted.” (Drug Topics)

Evidence & Innovation

The FDA has authorized the use of the first rapid coronavirus diagnostic test with a detection time of about 45 minutes. Reuters reports that the test’s developer, Cepheid, plans to begin making it available by March 30, primarily to hospitals and EDs. “With new tools like point-of-care diagnostics, we are moving into a new phase of testing, where tests will be much more easily accessible to Americans who need them,” U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said. (Reuters)
AI could be a valuable population health tool during this COVID-19 crisis, helping to identify the highest risk patients. Medical Home Network, a not-for-profit collaborative with an ACO that provides care to roughly 120,000 Medicaid patients in Cook County, Ill., and ClosedLoop.ai, a health care data science platform that provides predictive models for health care use, are doing just that. ClosedLoop.ai’s COVID-19 Vulnerability Index was used with MHN ACO’s patient demographics, social determinants of health, claims and clinical activity to create the model. Once identified, MHN ACO will contact high-risk patients and ensure they are connected to primary care practices or other health care services. (AI in Healthcare)
A University of Michigan startup is providing kits—at no charge—that capture the genetic code of COVID-19 virus samples. Variations in that code reveal how the virus has morphed over time. “We expect the research results from using our panel to be more relevant to preventing the next outbreak. The panel is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure a given patient. But it can be used to help determine which animal species are potential sources of COVID-19,” said Alison Devault, director of genomics at the startup, Arbor Biosciences. (University of Michigan Newsthe kits)

Policy Solutions

The Affordable Care Act included provisions to change prescription drug access and affordability. What the ACA didn’t do was institute systemic changes in the pricing of drugs. The authors of a recent Health Affairs article reviewed the past decade since the ACA was enacted. “We found that new drug approvals have accelerated, and the therapeutic advances embodied in some novel medicines are substantial—as are the prices that companies are charging for them.” The authors review how things have changed, identify lost opportunities and explore the ACA’s influence on the current drug pricing debate. (Health Affairs)
The FDA last month published a table identifying more than 50 gene-drug interactions. It also said it’s considering new approaches to evaluating pharmacogenetic associations. The FDA acknowledges the table is incomplete. It provides various disclaimers, too—including that FDA does not necessarily endorse pharmacogenetic tests for interactions included on the list. “It is important to take steps now to help ensure that claims being made for pharmacogenetic tests offered today are grounded in sound science to avoid inappropriate management of patients’ medications,” the FDA stated. (Endpoints NewsFDA announcement)
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