Painstaking Efforts to Improve Opioid Stewardship

November 10, 2017

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50.  In 2016, the United States (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a seminal guideline for primary care clinicians regarding opioid prescribing. These guidelines are now being implemented by clinicians, insurers, and healthcare institutions. The Transforming Opioid Prescribing in Primary Care (TOPCARE) study sought to assess the impact of a multicomponent care management intervention on opioid stewardship in four primary care centers.

Guest Authors:  Lucas Hill and Jennifer Shin

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Painting a New CANVAS for SGLT-2 Inhibitors?

October 13, 2017

While good glycemic control has been shown to prevent microvascular complications (e.g. retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy), only a few anti-diabetic agents have been shown to reduce macrovascular complications (e.g. cardiovascular events. Empagliflozin, a sodium glucose transporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitor, not only reduced the risk of CV events but also all-cause mortality in the EMPA-REG OUTCOME study.  Based on this data, the SGLT2 inhibitors were given favorable second-line treatment status in the most recent AACE/ACE clinical practice guidelines. But do all SGLT2 inhibitors confer the same benefits… and risks? The Canagliflozin and Cardiovascular and Renal Events in Type 2 Diabetes (CANVAS) trial assessed the cardiovascular and renal benefits from long-term canagliflozin use.  The results are both reassuring and unexpected.

Guest Author:  Sean Lasota, Pharm.D.

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Validating HERDOO2 - When is it Safe to Stop Therapy After an Unprovoked VTE?

September 22, 2017

According to the 2016 CHEST VTE Guidelines, at least 3 months of therapy is recommended for an unprovoked DVT or PE (Grade 1B). Thereafter, the clinician is expected to weigh the risks and benefits to determine if extended therapy is appropriate. Balancing the risk of mortality from recurrent VTE versus major bleeding has been challenging.  A validated clinical decision tool is sorely needed!  Until recently, no risk assessment tool has been validated and therefore none have been widely adopted in practice.

Guest Author:  Carol Chan, Pharm.D.

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Testing the Limits on Blood Glucose Monitoring: Can We Safely Cut Back?

September 8, 2017

Is self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) cost-effective?  SMBG is often recommended to help guide treatment decisions.  Consumer-oriented advertising often promotes frequent SMBG as means to achieve better glycemic control but current clinical practice guidelines do not provide specific recommendations regarding the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. The lack of conclusive evidence supporting the clinical benefits of routine SMBG combined with the rising costs of healthcare has led some payers to place limits on SMBG testing supplies.  Is this wise policy?  Or does it lead to poor health outcomes?

Guest Authors:  KyAnn Wisse, PharmD, BCACP and Dawn Fuke, Pharm.D, BCPS

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Are Statins ALL THAT for Primary Prevention in Older Adults? A Second Look at ALLHAT-LLT

August 25, 2017

Statins reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk. However, the utility of statin therapy in older adults — particularly in those age 75 years and older — remains controversial. The need for additional evidence to guide clinical practice is underscored by the fact that one-in-three older Americans report taking a statin.  Given the paucity of prospective data, a post-hoc analysis of the ALLHAT-LLT (Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering treatment to prevent Heart Attack Trial - Lipid Lowering Trial) was recently published.  Does this new analysis really help inform the decision?

Guest Author:  Leo Buckley, Pharm.D.

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Wrapping up Knee Pain: Cabbage Leaf Wraps for Osteoarthritis of the Knee

August 11, 2017

Cabbage leaf wraps (CLWs) … the newest health craze trending on social media? A culinary masterpiece? Or an effective complementary treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) relief? A recently published study attempted to answer the latter question.

Guest Author:  Emily Prohaska, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP

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All for One and FOURIER for All!

July 27, 2017

Although statins have a proven benefit and are widely used, ASCVD continues to be the leading cause of death in the US.  In 2015, two proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors, alirocumab (Praluent®) and evolocumab (Repatha®), were approved to treat elevated cholesterol when added to maximally-tolerated statin therapy in patients with familial hypercholesterolemia or history of ASCVD.  However, the lack of long-term CV outcomes data, high cost, and uncertainty regarding place in therapy have limited their wide-spread use. The recently published FOURIER Study provides compelling new evidence.

Guest Author:  Kelly Starman, Pharm.D., BCPS

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Vitamin D to Prevent Respiratory Tract Infections: Is the Evidence Dazzling or Disappointing?

June 26, 2017

Observational studies and systematic reviews have shown an association between low vitamin D concentrations and acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs). An association is one thing, but can vitamin D supplementation reduce the risk of ARTIs?  That’s what a recent systematic review and meta-analysis attempted to determine.

Guest Author:  Amanda Schartel, Pharm.D., BCACP

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It’s All Relative: EINSTEIN CHOICE - Rivaroxaban for Extended Secondary Prevention of VTE

June 10, 2017

For the acute treatment of venous thromboembolism, the direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have increasingly replaced injectable anticoagulant therapy followed by warfarin.  For patients with an unprovoked deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism who may benefit from long-term extended prophylaxis for the secondary prevention of VTE, the choice is less clear. Should a DOAC be used?  If so, which one and what's the best dose?  What about low-dose aspirin? Is extended therapy needed at all?  The EINSTEIN CHOICE study adds important new insights to the growing body of literature.

Guest Author: Sarah Anderson, PharmD, BCPS

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Peeling Back the Layers on Coated Aspirin

April 14, 2017

More than 15 million Americans have coronary heart disease and most should be taking aspirin daily.  Given aspirin’s ubiquity in cardiovascular medicine and patients’ pill boxes, it is shocking that there are still so many unanswered questions about aspirin use. Which dose and dosage forms should be prescribed?  How common is aspirin resistance?  What is the relationship between platelet inhibition and clinical outcomes?

Guest Author:  Daniela Valencia, Pharm.D.

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