February 17, 2017
Let’s all clap for Georgia
According to the CDC, STDs are at an all-time high in the U.S. And guess which state ranks number 7 for highest incidence of them? C’mon, guess.
USP supports pharmacist provider status
The CEO of USP (you know, the US Pharmacopeial Convention — the folks who verify the quality of supplements) has come out in favor of the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, aka provider status.
Pharmacists have been valued partners in USP’s work since we created our first medication quality standards nearly 200 years ago. The pharmacy profession has evolved tremendously since then and pharmacists today are highly trained healthcare professionals with extensive specialized education and training.
Potential “game changer” in the fight against opioid abuse
China is banning one of the most potent opioids, carfentanil. Last time the country banned a drug, it practically disappeared from the U.S. market.
—Friday, February 17
February 16, 2017
Senators to Price: Allow importing drugs from Canada
Three U.S. senators have asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price to use his authority to allow “fast-track” importation of drugs from Canada.
Humana to pull out of exchanges
Humana has said it will not sell insurance in state marketplaces in 2018 — the first major insurer to make the announcement, although Humanas “is not a major player in the individual exchanges.”
Congress never paid health insurers the money they were promised under Obamacare, causing many of them to pull out of the marketplaces in 2016 and 2017.
Aetna, Humana call it quits
The companies have officially called off their $34 billion merger, after a judge ruled it would violate anti-trust laws. Aetna will
return the engagement ring pay Humana a $1 billion breakup fee.
Anthem, Cigna call it quits
The companies have officially called off their planned $54 billion merger, but it’s not an amicable break-up. Cigna is demanding $14.8 billion from Anthem: $1.85 billion for the breakup itself, and $13 billion in damages. Anthem shot back with claims that Cigna sabotaged the merger. Get your popcorn.
NCPA endorses anti-DIR bill
Our friends at the National Community Pharmacists Association announced their support for a bill “that prohibits pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees from being applied after the point-of-sale for prescription drugs dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries.”
Three Georgia representatives — Buddy Carter, Doug Collins, and Drew Ferguson — are co-sponsoring the bill. (An earlier version of this story inadvertently left out Rep. Ferguson.)
Read all about HR 1038.
Does MiraLax turn kids emo?
MiraLax isn’t supposed to be given to anyone under 17. Parents in Philly are claiming that, when they gave it to their under-17 children, it turned them “angry and dark.”
Wondering who has legal access to your prescription records?
We asked Rick Allen, director of the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. His reply was simple: “DEA has access, GDNA has access, but [other] law enforcement does not without a subpoena or search warrant.”
Gluten-free diets have some risky downsides
For people who don’t have celiac disease but put themselves on a gluten-free diet because they read on the Internet that it’s good… well, maybe not, according to a new study.
The researchers found that levels of [arsenic and mercury] were much higher among subjects who followed a gluten-free diet than those who did not eat gluten-free products; mercury levels were 70 percent higher in the blood of gluten-free subjects, while arsenic levels in urine were almost twice as high.
Good news, though: Both arsenic and mercury are all-natural!
Illinois considers limiting pharmacists’ hours, requiring techs
After the Chicago Tribune found all those medical errors committed up there, the Illinois House of Representatives is considering a bill that “would limit both the number of hours pharmacists could work in a day and the number of prescriptions pharmacies could fill in an hour.” It would also require a technician be present — at least 10 tech-hours per 100 prescriptions filled.
Our friends at the Illinois Pharmacists Association are opposing the bill.
Drugs aren’t the right option for most lower-back pain
The American College of Physicians says that exercise is as good or better for lower back pain than meds, and that meds are more a last-line treatment than a first-line one.
HHS to implement rule to protect health insurers
Tom Price, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said HHS will be implementing a planned Obama administration rule that would help insurance companies by making it harder for healthy people to sign up for coverage only when they get sick.
[T]he regulation makes it harder for patients to sign up outside of annual open enrollment periods and would allow insurers to collect past-due premiums before starting coverage for a new year. It would also shorten the annual enrollment period by half, from three months to 45 days, ending right between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And it would give insurers more flexibility in the types of plans they offer and return regulation of the size and adequacy of health care provider networks to the states.
—Thursday, February 16