May 18 Pharmacy Week in Review: Trump Takes On Drug Prices, Medical Cannabis Studied, FDA Approves Fingolimod


This weekly video program provides our readers with an in-depth review of the latest news, product approvals, FDA rulings, and more. Our Week in Review is a can't miss for the busy pharmacy professional.

This weekly video program provides our readers with an in-depth review of the latest news, product approvals, FDA rulings, and more. Our Week in Review is a can't miss for the busy pharmacy professional.

Nicole Grassano, Host: Hello and welcome to the Pharmacy Times News Network. I’m Nicole Grassano your host for our Pharmacy Week in Review.

In a statement on lowering drug prices, President Donald J. Trump called for “tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter,” Pharmacy Times reported. The sentiments, which were the subject of a panel discussion at Asembia 2018 this month, focused largely on bringing drug prices under control. Trump pointed to the reformation of the Drug Discount Program for safety net hospitals as a step in that direction.

The administration has also acted to remove barriers to generic-drug development and market entry in an effort to spur competition, he said. Trump also noted he has directed officials to take action to end what he termed “global freeloading,” which he explained as lowered prices on drugs in other countries compared with the United States, where much of the investment funds for medical research originate. Of note, Trump’s plan also bans the Pharmacist Gag Rule, which punishes pharmacists for telling patients how to save money.

Findings from recently published research suggest that medical cannabis use may be associated with a higher risk of abusing prescription medication, including pain relievers, Contemporary Clinic reported. The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, includes more than 57,000 responses to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in which participants were asked about medical and nonmedical use of prescription drugs. Participants were also asked about marijuana use and whether it was recommended by a health care professional.

Overall, the survey identified 776 people who used medical marijuana, about 1.4% of all respondents. According to the survey, those who used medical marijuana were more than twice as likely to report nonmedical use of prescription drugs, including pain relievers, stimulants, and tranquilizers. Additionally, in an analysis limited to people who used prescription drugs, higher levels of nonmedical prescription drug use were prevalent among those who used medical marijuana. However, other studies have contradicted the notion that marijuana is linked to increased prescription drug use. Previous research has indicated that states in which medical marijuana is legal have lower rates of medical and nonmedical prescription drug abuse and related harms, such as opioid overdoses.

FDA officials recently approved fingolimod (Gilenya) from Novartis to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in pediatric patients aged 10 years and older, Specialty Pharmacy Times reported. The approval is based on a clinical trial evaluating fingolimod’s efficacy in treating pediatric patients with MS. In the trial, 86% of patients who received fingolimod remained relapse-free after 24 months of treatment, compared with 46% of those who received another MS drug, interferon beta-1a.

Fingolimod was first approved by the FDA in 2010 to treat adults with relapsing MS. The newly approved indication makes it the first FDA-approved drug to treat MS in pediatric patients.

Pharmacists may get more questions about the NicoDerm CQ patch if their patients have seen a new commercial for the OTC smoking cessation aid. In the spot, called “Josh and Kayla,” the siblings are visiting their father, who is in the hospital due to his smoking habit. When the pair step outside to take a smoking break, they recognize the irony of the situation, and decide to quit smoking for good by trying the NicoDerm CQ patch. According to the commercial, the NicoDerm CQ patch helps prevent the urge to smoke.

For more great coverage and practical information for today’s pharmacist, visit our website and sign up for our Daily eNews. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for watching our Pharmacy Week in Review. I’m Nicole Grassano at the Pharmacy Times News Network.

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