PHARMACY

Opioid commission issues 56 policy suggestions in final report

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has issued its final report with 56 recommendations on how to address prescription drug abuse and misuse. The report, issued at the commission’s final meeting Wednesday, includes such recommendations as providing federal funding and programs to target opioid abuse and misuses, addiction prevention efforts and prescription drug management program enhancements, among others.

Besides calling for block grant funding from Congress for opioid-related state activities and a wide-ranging media campaign, the report outlines recommendations for prescribing guidelines. Suggestions include policies to ensure informed consent from patients about opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, a screening program to help prescribers identify at-risk patients and the requirement of a continuing education program for prescribers who want to be relicensed to prescribe opioids.

With regard to pharmacy, the report calls for pharmacist training to help them assess the legitimacy of opioids prescriptions while warning against penalizing pharmacists who deny inappropriate prescriptions. The commission also focuses on PDMP enhancements, including a push for Justice Dept. funding to establish and maintain a hub for PDMP reporting required from states who would receive federal funding. It also wants PDMPs to be integrated with electronic health records, overdose episodes and tools for substance use disorder-related decisions, among other initiatives.

The report has drawn praise from industry organizations, who noted that the report includes several proposals they suggested.

“We appreciate that many concepts urged by NACDS and by others have been incorporated into the report released today," National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson said Wednesday. “In addition, many of the concepts in the report are consistent with new public policy recommendations that NACDS issued last week, based on first-hand experiences of pharmacists on the front lines of patient care and intended to build on pharmacy’s ongoing engagement on this issue.”

Also commending the report was the Healthcare Distribution Alliance. 

“We commend the commission for its work over the past several months to identify comprehensive solutions to address the opioid epidemic,” HDA president and CEO John Gray said. “Our industry is strongly committed to working with the public and private sectors to advance meaningful reforms at both the state and federal levels to reduce the prevalence of overprescribing; increase awareness of proper use and disposal of opioids among patients and families; and ensure individuals with legitimate pain needs have access to safe and effective treatments. In our letter to the Commission, we outlined the proactive solutions that would strengthen our country’s response to this epidemic. We were encouraged to see the Commission call for urgent action on a number of these policies.”

Other suggested efforts include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services changing set rates that might discourage use of non-opioid pain treatments. It also calls for a federal review of and funding for National Institute on Drug Abuse research that would take place alongside pharmaceutical industry research. The research should focus on new treatments for substances use disorders, more potent overdose-reversal drugs and opioid vaccines, the report said.

The final report comes less than a week after President Donald Trump declared a Public Health Emergency, a move that drew criticism for its lack of a call for funding. Commission chairman and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie noted that this was done in accordance with the commission’s recommendations.

“The president did exactly what I asked him to. I wanted this to be a public health emergency because I wanted HHS to take the lead in administering funds, not FEMA,” Christie said. “Now it’s incumbent upon Congress to step up and put money in the Public Health Emergency Fund so the President can utilize that, and that should happen without delay, in the view of the commission.”

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CMP Pharma launches CaroSpir oral suspension

BY David Salazar

FARMVILLE, N.C. — Following its August approval, CMP Pharma on Monday launched its CaroSpir, a spironolactone oral suspension. Company leadership said CaroSpir is the first approved oral liquid dosage form of the diuretic.

The formulation is aimed at meeting the needs of patients with difficulty swallowing. Up to this point, CMP Pharma said these patients have relied on compounded formulations with limited shelf life and potential unreimbursed costs.

“CaroSpir is intended for a subset of the patient population that needs spironolactone but has difficulty swallowing or inability to swallow,” CMP Pharma CEO Gerald Sakowski said. “Until today there was no FDA-approved oral suspension of spironolactone to satisfy this unmet need. The availability of CaroSpir now gives healthcare providers and appropriate patients a convenient, safe and approved liquid option.”

CaroSpir is available in 118- and 473-ml bottles in 25 mg/5 ml dosage strength. It comes in a banana flavor, which the company said is a move aimed at improving compliance.

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DSNTV: SynMed Ultra paves way for high-volume blister card production

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Synergy Medical, a Canadian manufacturer of automation for single and multi-dose blister cards, has been in the industry for over 10 years. With over 300 systems installed across North America, the company has figured out a way to make the latest addition to their offerings — the SynMed Ultra — work with 35 different types of packaging and produce more than 100 multi-dose blister cards per hour.

“Our automation system allows the pharmacy to scale that type of operation if they want to offer blister packs service to their patients,”  Synergy Medical’s vice president of sales in North America, Mark Rinker, said. “Done manually, it’s prone to error, is it time-consuming and consumes a lot of the pharmacies labor. So that’s where we come in to offer an automation solution to be able to prepare those blister packs in a safe manner, an accurate manner, and also in a manner where they can scale that portion of their business without chasing volume with labor.”

The idea for the SynMed Ultra came originated from a customer in Quebec City, who started off with one system and slowly added more as their demands for production grew. After running out of space, the client asked the company’s owner about the possibility of creating a product with higher production per square foot.

SynMed Ultra has been three years in the works. The first commercial robot was installed two months ago, and the first U.S. installation will be coming this fall. Watch the video above for more on the device. 

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