Pharmacy News

Entries for January 2015

Early Estimates Indicate that Seasonal Influenza Vaccine was Just 23 Percent Effective

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released early estimates of the influenza vaccine effectiveness for the 2014-2015 season in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Early estimates indicate that the seasonal influenza vaccine was just 23 percent effective. The interim estimate, which is relatively low when compared with previous seasons, likely reflects the fact that more than two-thirds of the circulating A(H3N2) viruses are antigenically drifted from the A(H3N2) vaccine component of 2014-2015 Northern Hemisphere seasonal flu vaccines.

The CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination, noting that the vaccine can prevent some infections with the currently circulating A(H3N2) viruses and other viruses that may circulate later in the flu season. In addition, the organization recommends antiviral medications, noting that all hospitalized patients and outpatients at high-risk for serious complications from the flu should be given neuraminidase inhibitors as soon as possible if influenza is suspected, without waiting for confirmatory influenza lab testing.

For additional details, please see the CDC Web site.

Posted in: Professional Practice
Deadline for Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment is Feb. 15

Americans without health insurance have until Feb. 15 to enroll in affordable, quality plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As a pharmacist, you work with customers without insurance or pharmacy coverage every day who struggle to pay for critical medication(s) out of pocket. You can help them begin enrollment in quality, affordable health insurance coverage simply by providing information! Many families and individuals will also qualify for help with paying monthly health insurance premiums and cost sharing for health care services.

Encourage your patients who don’t have insurance to apply for coverage by sharing information with them. There are several ways they can learn how to apply:

There are also two simple one-page information documents for providers regarding the Marketplace. You can download them online; click on “Special Populations” and scroll down to “Health Care Providers.”

Posted in: Professional Practice
FDA Advisory Panel Votes for Approval of First U.S. Biosimilar

On Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Panel recommended approval of the first U.S. biosimilar medication Zarxio, which is Sandoz’s (a unit of Novartis) equivalent to Neupogen currently manufactured by Amgen. According to the advisory panel, Zarxio should be approved for the same five conditions Neupogen is approved to treat. The FDA will most likely make a decision on the biosimilar medication Zarxio in March, and will consider the advisory panel’s recommendation at that time.

One of MPA’s legislative priorities this year is ensuring that when pharmacists dispense a FDA-approved interchangeable biosimilar medication, there isn’t undue burden placed on them to notify the prescriber of the change. MPA advocates that biosimilar medications should be treated as other generic medications are currently, with no notification to the prescriber that a switch to or from a brand name to interchangeable generic medication has occurred. MPA will continue to monitor any legislation and keep you up-to-date on the biosimilar guidance documents the FDA will release this year.

Posted in: Medication Approvals
Review MPA’s 2015 Legislative Priorities
Access MPA’s 2015 legislative priorities to see how your Association will be advocating for the profession this year. Don’t know where to begin to advocate for key pharmacy issues? Utilize the talking points available that summarize key points and pharmacists’ roles in important areas. Visit to get to know the areas MPA will focus on in the coming year.
Posted in: Laws and Regulations
NGA Releases Summary Document for Use in Promoting the Expanding Role of Pharmacists to Congressional Representatives

The National Governors Association (NGA), in collaboration with the state boards of pharmacy, the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the American Pharmacists Association, has released a paper summarizing three key points in expanding the role of pharmacists in health care.

They define the three challenges as expanding collaborative practice agreement provisions, achieving provider status for compensation of pharmacist-delivered care services and allowing pharmacists access to health IT systems. The document, available online, can be useful for pharmacists wishing to contact their Congressional representative in support of recognizing pharmacists as health care providers. The Table 3 “Summary of State Policy Considerations” in the document provides a nice overview of the three points with examples of successes in other states.

Research that supports the value of expanding the role of the pharmacist is critically important to the success of professional initiatives, including provider status, scope of practice and innovative health care models that include the pharmacy setting. When speaking with patients, other health care professionals and policymakers, use this paper as a reference. To educate individuals on the important role of the pharmacist, share this document with them. In fact, you may even want to include this link in an e-mail to your local legislator. To learn more about contacting your legislator, visit the MPA Web site. Or, if you have any questions about advocacy, please contact Amanda Lick, MPA manager of advocacy, governmental and regulatory affairs, at or (517) 377-0254.

Posted in: Laws and Regulations
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