PHARMACY

Health Canada allows immediate access to Narcan nasal spray

BY David Salazar
OTTAWA — Canada’s minister of health on Wednesday signed an interim order that will bring immediate access to Narcan (naloxone) nasal spray. The order allows the nasal spray, made by Adapt Pharma, to be imported from the U.S. and sold in Canda, where only the injectable version of the opioid overdose reversal drug had been available. 
 
Health Canada is currently reviewing an application for the nasal spray’s authorization to be sold in the country, but health minister Jane Philpott said the interim order will ensure access during the review period and potentially save lives. 
 
“The number of opioid overdoses in Canada is nothing short of a public health crisis,” Philpott said. “First responders, police and family members need immediate access to formats of naloxone that are easy to use so that needless deaths can be prevented. Extraordinary measures are required to address this crisis, so I have asked my department to conduct an expedited review of nasal naloxone for sale in Canada, and to enact this temporary measure that allows access to a product from the US while our review is underway.”
 
The nasal spray will be provided alongside English and French instructions for use. Besides making Narcan nasal spray available, Canada’s government has been educating citizens about safe use, storage and disposal of prescription drugs while increasing inspections to keep drugs from being diverted from pharmacies and improving surveillance data on prescription drug abuse. The government has also been working with First Nations communities to enhance prevention and treatment of opioid-related issues. 
 
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Taro CEO to step down, head to Sun Pharma HQ

BY David Salazar
HAWTHORNE, N.Y. — Taro Pharmaceuticals on Thursday announced that its CEO Kal Sundaram would be stepping down as CEO at the end of 2016. Sundaram will be returning to India, where he will assume an executive position at Sun Pharma’s global headquarters (Taro is a U.S. subsidiary of Sun Pharma). 
 
“On behalf of Taro’s entire Board, I want to thank Kal for his many contributions to Taro — providing significant leadership over a challenging period for both the company and the industry, his commitment and dedication to being a driving force behind Taro’s strategic direction, and leading the company on a steady and consistent growth path – delivering strong financial and operational performance,” Taro chairman Dilip Shanghvi said. 
 
Taro’s board will conduct a formal process to appoint a CEO to solely focus on Taro, which Sundaram will assist with. He will stay on board until the end of 2016. 
 
“I am grateful and privileged to be associated with Taro for the past four years as a Board member and three years as CEO. I am also proud of what the Taro team has accomplished during that time,” Sundaram said. “By all measures, the company has executed very well over the past several years, and as a result, Taro is well positioned for continued growth and success. I’d like to thank the Board, the executive management team, and Taro’s employees for their support throughout the years.”
 
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Latest CVS Health Research Institute study proclaims MTM value to hospitals

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Hospital readmissions are reduced by as much as 50% thanks to retail pharmacy medication reconciliation programs, according to a  new study released Thursday by the CVS Health Research Institute.

The research, published in the July issue of Health Affairs, is the first to evaluate the impact of an insurer-supported medication reconciliation program on clinical outcomes and health care spending.

"After leaving the hospital people are especially vulnerable and are often dealing with complex and changing care regimens, which can result in high rates of medication non-adherence and increased risk for costly and unnecessary readmissions," stated Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer, CVS Health. "In fact, adverse drug events, often attributable to medication non-adherence, are associated with the majority of hospital readmissions. This research shows that programs that provide patients with additional support from a pharmacist can help improve health outcomes and save payers and patients money."

The study analyzed hospital readmissions of more than 260 members of a national health plan who were hospitalized over a five-month period. Researchers compared readmission rates for patients enrolled in a medication reconciliation program upon hospital discharge to a control group of members who received no additional support following their initial hospital stay.

Those enrolled in the program received an initial in-home or telephonic consultation based on their readmission risk and were also offered ongoing telephonic support for the first 30 days following discharge. During the initial consultations, pharmacists compared members' pre- and post- hospitalization medication regimens; identified discrepancies, redundancies and safety concerns; and provided education and support regarding medication use and adherence.

The researchers found that risk of hospital readmission at 30 days was reduced by 50%, reducing overall risk of hospital readmission from 22% to 11% for those in the medication reconciliation program. Additionally, the health plan saved $2 for every $1 spent on the program, resulting in a total savings of more than $1,300 per member.

"The research found that the positive effects of the pharmacist consultation on reducing readmission rates and costs were similar whether the consultation was conducted via an in-home visit from a pharmacist or over the telephone when the intensity of the intervention was tailored to members' risk," Brennan said. "These results demonstrate that there is an opportunity for payers to consider adopting programs that provide pharmacist support and counseling by phone as a cost-efficient way to help improve medication adherence and health outcomes for their vulnerable populations."

An estimated one in seven patients discharged from a hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and readmissions are associated with more than $41 billion in additional health care costs per year. In addition, evidence suggests that approximately 66% of hospital readmissions are the result of adverse health events related to medication non-adherence.

Historically, health insurers have had little control over direct efforts to reduce hospital readmission rates for their members. When available, these kinds of programs are largely run by hospitals and outpatient providers and their impact has not been broadly evaluated.

The CVS Health Research Institute is focused on contributing to the body of scientific knowledge related to pharmacy and health care through research collaborations with external academic institutions, participation in federally-funded research, analysis and sharing of CVS Health data sources and coordination of pilot programs and initiatives. CVS Health Research Institute findings support a continuous quality improvement environment, which encourages product innovation and development to benefit CVS Health patients, clients and their members.

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