Pharmacy Times

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Painless Patch May Someday Nix Needles

Those who get nervous around needles and panic over being punctured may be able to breathe a sigh of relief. A painless patch equipped with microneedles may make long, uncomfortable needles obsolete. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University teamed up to develop the patch, which is lined with the tiny needles, each only a few hundred microns in length.

The researchers tested the microneedle patches by using them to administer flu shots to mice and comparing the results with mice vaccinated by traditional means. Findings showed similar antibody levels in both groups. The team is aiming for 2010 for the first human trial.

If the microneedle patch eventually gains approval, its developers envision it as something that could allow patients to self-administer medications and vaccines. Not only able to deliver drugs through the skin, the patches could also be used to deliver macular degeneration drugs into the eye.


Free Flu Evaluator Helps Quell Concerns


With so many concerned about the flu outbreak, patients are full of questions about their symptoms. Now, thanks to a collaboration between pharmacy benefit manager MedImpact, the American Medical Association, and other health organizations, pharmacists and other clinicians do not have to address all of them. The free, online Flu Evaluator is an easy-to-use application that helps patients detect and identify flu symptoms, as well as take the proper action.

The electronic flu evaluation tool poses questions to the user to determine whether symptoms are indicative of seasonal or swine flu, or if the patient is deemed healthy. By providing answers to patients’ questions, the Flu Evaluator helps to reduce costs incurred from unnecessary visits to emergency health care facilities while empowering patients with knowledge and peace of mind.

To access the Flu Evaluator, go to www.ehealthhome.com.


ASHP Helps Improve Med Use Quality

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) has introduced additions to its online reference, providing even more impetus for hospital and health-system pharmacists to take on roles for improving the quality of medication use in their facilities. The ASHP Quality Improvement Resource Center is comprised of a number of valuable resources and is the main component of a 3-year quality improvement initiative, supported by sanofi-aventis, and aimed at getting pharmacists more actively involved in enhancing the quality of medication use.

Among the additions to the site are:
• A strategic planning tool to assist managers in developing quality improvement action plans
• Information on upcoming Webinars and archived copies of past ones
• Podcasts and audio files offering plans for implementing quality improvement initiatives
• “Virtual” poster presentations highlighting successful quality initiative implementations
• Updated learning module
• News briefs on current quality improvement issues

Check out the newly improved site at ashp.org/qii. Once there, visitors can register to receive regular updates on emerging quality improvement issues and receive advance notice of future updates to the site.


Smallest State Big on e-Prescribing

Rhode Island is leading the country in electronic prescribing, having become the first state to implement it in 100% of its pharmacies in late October. Surescripts, a major e-prescribing network, selected the state as the national beta test site for the technology back in 2003. At that time, 3% of pharmacies were involved in e-prescribing. Now, all of Rhode Island’s 181 pharmacies have jumped on board.

The state is using federal grant money to cover the costs of the technology, which is touted as providing time savings that allow for better patient care. Patients are only placed into the e-prescribing network with their permission.

E-prescribing also is allowing pharmacies throughout Rhode Island to track swine flu around the state by documenting the amounts of Tamiflu and other antivirals being dispensed to patients. After data is broken down by municipality and age group, it is then passed on to state epidemiologists. The department receives weekly updates on prescription data from throughout the state. ■