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Practice Transformation

Oscar Health is the latest insurer to cap some plan members’ out-of-pocket costs for life-saving insulin and other medications, a move several insurance companies have made in the last year amid pressure to reduce prescription drug costs. It announced its individual insurance plan members will pay $3 for a month’s supply of 100 commonly used drugs. In addition to diabetes, the list includes drugs to treat migraines, nausea, allergies and hypertension, among other medical conditions. (Modern Healthcare)

Evidence & Innovation

“Integration of clinical pharmacy services through a comprehensive medication management program in oncology will help to reduce the number of drug-related problems.” That’s the conclusion of a study of 137 in-patients published last month in the International Journal of Pharmacy. In this study, prescribers approved 93% of the pharmacists’ intervention proposals, and 91% of the identified problems were totally solved. Inappropriate combinations of drugs accounted for 73% of the total problems. (International Journal of Pharmacy)
For the first time, a medicine developed by artificial intelligence may be used to treat patients. The drug molecule, DSP-1181, has entered Phase I clinical trials. It’s intended for patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. A joint venture between Japan’s Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and the UK’s Exscientia, DSP-1181 was developed using Exscientia’s AI platform for drug discovery. (European Pharmaceutical Review)

Policy Solutions

Pharmacists and patients are “stuck in the middle of a profit-before-all-else pharmacy racket,” Scott Knoer, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer of the Cleveland Clinic, writes in STAT News. “Pharmacists need to take back control of their profession from those who seek to exploit their talents to merely pump out more pills and drive short-term quarterly earnings.” It begins by “elevating the role of pharmacists… to the clinical, patient-focused positions they trained for and dedicate their professional lives to.” Policy changes will be required to make this happen, and pharmacists can drive such change. (STAT News)
The drug industry lacks the clout it once did. The Wall Street Journal reports that one sign of its waning influence is bipartisanship. Republicans and Democrats are now working together to overhaul drug-price regulation. PhRMA had relied on its relationship with Republican lawmakers—and support from a few Democrats—to block policy changes it didn’t like. That may no longer be the case. “We are now taking a more proactive approach of coming to the table to offer policy makers solutions that would address patient affordability challenges,” says Stephen Ubl, CEO of PhRMA. (WSJ; Becker’s Hospital Review)

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