rxpharmacist

2021 Intern Testimonial!

Intern Testimonial

Before my internship with RxPharmacist, I really had no idea what was possible with medical writing in the field of pharmacy. Now I’ve learned that it can really just be whatever you make of it. If you’re interested in a certain aspect of pharmacy, no matter how niche, there’s bound to be others just like you who are willing to read your work on it. I personally am interested in compounding and veterinary pharmacy, and was able to work on RcPharmacist’s first compounding guides!

The biggest thing I appreciated about this internship is how mutually beneficial it is. I got to work on projects that interested me and was given the opportunity to improve my own writing skills. RxPharmacist got to have content by pharmacists, for pharmacists. Everyone in the field of pharmacy benefits from the work put out by RxPharmacist. Like pretty much every new graduate, I had to also study for the NAPLEX and MPJE while working the internship. They understand this and will work with you and your schedule to make sure you feel comfortable and are successful!

Another thing I greatly enjoyed about the internship was the mentorship and networking that happened on the side. My mentor acted as the editor for my guide, and was always supportive and willing to give feedback. They try to match your mentor to your interests, and while my interests were sort of niche, my mentor was still a great source of information and mentorship. One of my mentors knew other pharmacists who were currently working in the fields that I’m interested in, and helped me connect with them to further network. I had some of the nicest mentors a new graduate could ask for.

-Christina I., 2021 RxPharmacist Intern

University of Texas at Austin

Using literature in medicine: An overview on clinical study types

In healthcare, collaboration and the sharing of information is vital to the expansion of knowledge. Different types of studies are conducted to confirm or build upon key concepts, such as the efficacy of a drug, the safety of an intervention, or the superiority of a specific treatment. In this blog, we will briefly review different study types that are used to answer clinical questions in the healthcare setting.

Quantitative studies1

Clinical guidelines are based upon evidence-based medicine (EBM), which is primarily derived from quantitative studies. Quantitative studies can either be descriptive or analytical.

A descriptive study does not try to establish a relationship between variables, and instead, simply describes the data that was found. Descriptive studies include case reports and case series.

An analytical study tests a hypothesis in a group of people to determine if there is a specific cause or relationship between variables. A hypothesis can be tested one of two ways: through the use of an intervention (an experimental study) or by observing the effect without directly applying an intervention (an observational study). Analytical studies include case-control, cohort, or randomized controlled studies, as well as those of a factorial design.

Below the different subtypes of studies are summarized.

Some studies pool together information from a variety of quantitative studies. Meta-analyses focus on pooling data to conduct further statistical analyses with increased power to support conclusions5. Forest plots are a tool typically utilized by meta-analyses. A systematic review focuses on answering a clinical question by summarizing data from other studies, without doing a separate statistical analysis5.

Qualitative studies6

While quantitative research is needed to justify consensus for EBM, qualitative studies are a major component of health care practice, particularly in the fields of academia and community health. If you are part of a non-profit organization looking to apply for grant funding, qualitative data can help to justify the needs of your population of interest.

The methodology of qualitative studies is based upon the information needed.

The _________ qualitative method…asks the question(s)…
Phenomenology  How do people experience a certain event?  
Grounded theoryWhat is the theoretical framework for a particular behavior, thought process, etc.?
EthnographyWhat are the important cultural aspects of a particular community?
HistoricalHow can the past events affect the future for this group?
Narrative inquiryWhat are the unique perspectives or lived experiences of this specific (often marginalized) group of people?
Action researchWhat approach does this specific (often marginalized) group of people propose for addressing groups like themselves? How can we get this group involved in the process?
Case studyWhat is the experience of a particular entity (individual, community, organization, etc.)?

Methods for achieving these types of studies are focus groups, interviews, surveys, and observation.

These study types can help to answer various questions within the healthcare setting. Although each type has the ability to elicit different information and outcomes, they all share in the common goal of expanding knowledge, and ultimately, improving patient care.

-Gabriela O., 2021 RxPharmacist Intern

References:

  1. Ranganathan P, Aggarwal R. Study designs: Part 1 – An overview and classification. Perspect Clin Res. 2018;9(4):184-186. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_124_18
  2. Ranganathan P, Aggarwal R. Study designs: Part 3 – Analytical observational studies. Perspect Clin Res. 2019;10(2):91-94. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_35_19
  3. Aggarwal R, Ranganathan P. Study designs: Part 4 – Interventional studies. Perspect Clin Res. 2019;10(3):137-139. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_91_19
  4. Aggarwal R, Ranganathan P. Study designs: Part 2 – Descriptive studies. Perspect Clin Res. 2019;10(1):34-36. doi:10.4103/picr.PICR_154_18
  5. Haidich AB. Meta-analysis in medical research. Hippokratia. 2010;14(Suppl 1):29-37
  6. Qualitative study design: Qualitative study design. LibGuides. https://deakin.libguides.com/qualitative-study-designs. Accessed August 20, 2021.

2021 Intern Testimonial

Flexibility towards a vision, mission, and goal

My initial plan post-graduation was to find a retail pharmacy position as soon as possible. At the time, I was not working as an intern and was relying heavily on being able to take my board exams early. An opportunity to work at RxPharmacist was presented to me around the same time and I took the chance to develop skills that I otherwise would not be able to gain.

I worked on the first RxPharmacist Retail OTC guide with my preceptor. I was able to gain skills in content creation, medical writing, and professional development. The entire team was very supportive of each other, and communication was excellent.

At first, the project was daunting, given the scope of the guide. In addition, I also was studying for the NAPLEX and MPJE. However, with encouragement and support from the RxPharmacist team, I was able to overcome any obstacles. I am very appreciative of the independence that interns are given as I was able to choose my work schedule and even deadlines. 

Overall, the RxPharmacist Internship has made me more confident in my own abilities. This internship has not only allowed me to improve myself, but also to give back to the profession.

-Edward S., 2021 RxPharmacist Graduate Summer Intern

University of Texas at Austin, Class of 2021

All about writing- RxPharmacist Internship Testimonial

All about writing- RxPharmacist Internship Testimonial

Throughout my experience in the world of health care, I’ve learned that one of the most important skills a clinician can have is writing. I have discovered that the pharmacists and physicians who can expertly navigate a patient case and process large amounts of data are the same ones who have published numerous papers and have excellent writing/technical skills. Throughout pharmacy school, I have sought to fine-tune my writing skills by joining and later becoming Editor-in-Chief of EMSOP Chronicles, a student run newspaper service for the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Additionally, I participated in a rigorous research project to test the effects of sulfur mustard on the corneas where I learned valuable skills in writing a scientific thesis.

After graduating pharmacy school, I sought to refine my writing skills further by taking on new challenges and accepting an intern position with RxPharmacist. My job was to create a study guide and practice questions for the New Jersey Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). This opportunity was especially educational as I was able to transition my writing skills from scientific/technical writing to study guides that can be easily read and understood. The amazing and supportive team at RxPharmacist gave me the necessary resources to guide me in creating the best version of my study guide. With their help, I had the opportunity to assist students across New Jersey with not only passing but excelling at their pharmacy licensing exam.

I am very thankful for RxPharmacist for giving me the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and cultivate my writing skills which ultimately makes me a better clinician. My goal is to progress further and build on my skills by continuing my education at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. I believe that by entering medical school, I will find more opportunities to write and gain new perspectives to write about.

-Musab S., 2021 RxPharmacist Graduate Intern

Rutgers University, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Class of 2021

Taking a risk, leading to a phenomenal reward

Taking a risk, leading to a phenomenal reward

The RxPharmacist internship program is an absolute must for anyone that feels even the slightest pull towards pursuing a pharmacy career that is non-traditional. Not only do you get paid to study, you get daily interactions with an army of mentors ready to help you with networking, job hunting, CV writing, and LinkedIn polishing.

The RxPharmacist team hosted many personalized workshops to help the interns transition from student to pharmacist, and more importantly, succeeding in their first job right out of school.

From step one my journey with RxPharmacist has been in my control, I was allowed to make my own project schedule and also make my MPJE guide exactly how I wanted. I was EXTREMELY nervous to sign on, I was concerned it would be too much to do with work, having a family, job hunting, and studying for the NAPLEX and MPJE, but I am so glad I bet on myself and the support RxPharmacist provided to take on this internship program. I have a completely unique addition to my CV, a new mentoring network, and an incalculable boost to my confidence. 

I would highly recommend anyone who is eyeing this internship to apply! It is a highly competitive process, but well worth it.

-Ally B., 2021 RxPharmacist Graduate Intern

University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, Class of 2021

board, school, dreams

Mentorship and Networking – Beyond a Job!

Before my graduation in 2020, I was uncertain about my career and future with pharmacy being heavily saturated and the COVID-19 pandemic hit creating an ecomonic downturn. I first came across the summer internship at RxPharmacist because I recognized the opportunities that they offered including the flexibility of a remote work role, creating my own study guide, and achieving growth in medical technical writing and growing my professional network. Now as I complete the program, I am glad to share with you this incredible experience at RxPharmacist. 

My first project was to edit the CPJE guide, which aided me passing the exam on my first attempt. Besides providing feedback on my work performance, my inspiring mentor spent time discussing with me about entrepreneurship, marketing, and my career goal. There was a heavy emphasis on strategy to approach achieving my goals of attaining my dream fellowship program. For example, knowing my interest in the pharmaceutical industry, she introduced me to experts in the field and helped me on my CV, letter of intent, and practicing with mock interviews. Thanks to her unwavering support, I got accepted into my top choice fellowship program where I would practice as a clinical development fellow in oncology at Rutgers (2021-2023). Although I was already working as a full-time pharmacist, this remote job was so flexible that it allowed me to work on my own schedule. Needless to say, beyond a job, not only the internship offered a unique opportunity to expand my networks and writing skills, but it also was a good transition for me from a graduate student to a pharmacist. I’m incredibly thankful of being able to get into my top fellowship program with the unwavering support of RxPharmacist and also was able to gain the FDA ORISE fellowship as a backup opportunity should I not be able to get my top choice through their help.

Therefore, I highly recommend this internship to anyone who seeks for professional networks and experience in medical and scientific communications. The preceptors and team are highly supportive. If your willing to work hard, learn new skills, and try something new, this might be a wonderful opportunity for you.

Thi N., 2020-2021 RxPharmacist Graduate Intern

UC San Diego, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Class of 2020

A Brief Review on Dyslipidemia for Pharmacists

  • General information:
    • Dyslipidemia is defined as a condition in which an individual has elevated cholesterol or lipids in an individual’s blood such as the following:
      • HDL: “Good” cholesterol
      • LDL: “Bad” cholesterol
      • Triglycerides (TGs)
    • LDL cholesterol can form plaques in vessels
    • HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL
    • TGs are formed in fat cells when calories are not burned right away
  • Symptoms:
    • Regarded as a silent disease in which patients are unaware of having it
  • Types and causes:
    • Primary dyslipidemia:
      • Inherited through genetics
    • Secondary dyslipidemia
      • Caused by lifestyle factors such as the following:
        • Obesity
        • Diabetes
        • Hypothyroidism
        • Alcoholism
  • Risk factors:
  • Review of lab values**:
 Total cholesterolHDL  LDLTGs
Desirable< 200> 40 (men) > 50 (women)  < 100< 150
Borderline200 – 239   130-159150-199
High  > 240     160-189  200-499  
Very high      > 190> 500

**All units are in mg/dL

  • Treatment options:
Class and Mechanism of ActionGeneric (Brand) NamesSide EffectsBlack Box WarningsContraindications
Statins: Inhibits the rate-limiting step for cholesterol synthesis by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase   **first-line**Atorvastatin (Lipitor) Rosuvastatin (Crestor) Simvastatin (Zocor) Pravastatin (Pravachol) Pitavastatin (Livalo) Fluvastatin (Lescol) Lovastatin (Mevacor) Simvastatin + Ezetimibe (Vytorin)  Myalgia Arthralgia Myopathy Diarrhea Cognitive impairmentSkeletal muscle effects  

Hepatotoxicity (increased LFTs)
Pregnancy Breastfeeding  

Use with cyclosporine  

Active liver disease
Bile Acid Sequestrants: Inhibits absorption of bile acids into blood which ultimately aids in reducing LDL  Cholestyramine (Questran) Colesvelam (Welchol) Colestipol (Colestid)  Abdominal pain Cramping Flatulence Constipation Increased TGs Increased LFTs   Esophageal obstruction   Cholestyramine: Biliary obstruction  
Colesvelam: Bowel obstruction and TGs > 500
Fibrates: PPAR-α agonist; inhibits TG synthesis and decreases VLDLGemfibrozil (Lopid) Fenofibrate (Tricor)  Abdominal pain Dyspepsia Increased LFTs  
Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)  
Risk of myopathy with concurrent statin use   Increased serum creatinine   CholelithiasisLiver disease Renal disease Gallbladder disease  

Use with repaglinide
PCSK-9 Inhibitors: Monoclonal antibodies that decrease LDLAlirocumab (Oraluent) Evolocumab (Repatha)Flu Cold URTI Injection site reaction   Urinary tract infection (UTI)    
2-Azetidinones: Inhibits absorption of cholesterol at the small intestineEzetimibe (Zetia)Myalgia Arthralgia Diarrhea URTI  Skeletal muscle effectsAvoid in patients with hepatic impairment
Fish Oils: Unknown mechanism of action    Omega-3 Acid (Lovaza) Icosapent Ethyl (Vascepa)Dyspepsia Flatulence Burping Increased LDLCaution in those with a fish/shellfish allergy 
Nicotinic acid/Vitamin B3: Decreases synthesis of VLDL, LDL, and TGs  Niacin (Niacor, Niaspan)Flushing Pruritis Nausea Vomiting Diarrhea Cough

Hyperglycemia Hyperuricemia  
Orthostatic hypotension  
Hepatotoxicity  

Rhabdomyolysis with concurrent statin use
Liver disease  

Arterial bleed  

Peptic ulcer disease
High-Intensity Statin Therapy (Lowers LDL on average by > 50%)Moderate-Intensity Statin Therapy (Lowers LDL on average by 30-49%)  
Atorvastatin 40-80 mg Rosuvastatin 20-40 mgAtorvastatin 10-20 mg
Rosuvastatin 5-10 mg
Simvastatin 20-40 mg
Pravastatin 40-80 mg
Lovastatin 40 mg
Fluvastatin 40 mg
Pitavastatin 2-4 mg  
  • Additional notes:
    • Statins
      • Patient must contact their doctor for any muscle symptoms or dark urine
      • Simvastatin, lovastatin, and fluvastatin must be taken at bedtime
      • Avoid gemfibrozil, niacin (> 1 gram), and colchicine
      • Simvastatin and lovastatin:
        • Avoid strong CYP3A4 inhibitors such as azoles, erythromycin, clarithromycin, HIV protease inhibitors, cobicistat, nefazodone, cyclosporine, grapefruit juice
    • Bile Acid Sequestrants
      • Take with food and water (colesevelam)
      • Space out with multivitamins
        • At least 4 hours of one another
      • ACC/AHA guidelines do not recommend use if TGs are > 300
    • Fibrates
      • Can increase LDL when TGs are high
      • Patient must contact their doctor for any muscle symptoms, dark urine, abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
    • PCSK-9 Inhibitors
      • Store in fridge
      • Prior to administration allow for syringe to warm up to room temperature for 30-45 minutes
        • Inspect for any particles and/or color changes
      • Rotate injection sites
        • Alirocumab and evolocumab: Subcutaneous injections given in the thigh, upper arm, or abdomen (except within 2 inches from belly button)
    • 2-Azetidinones (Zetia):
      • Avoid concurrent use with gemfibrozil
      • Monitor LFTs with concurrent statin or fibrate use
      • Give 2 hours before or 4 hours after bile acid sequestrants
      • Patient must contact their doctor for any muscle symptoms or dark urine
      • Concurrent use with cyclosporine may increase levels of both drugs
    • Nicotinic acid/Vitamin B3
      • Must be taken with food
      • Monitor LFTs
      • Niaspan:
        • IR: Flushing/itching
        • ER: Less flushing than IR; take at bedtime
      • Avoid spicy food and ethanol
      • Take 4-6 hours after bile sequestrant acids
  • Treatment algorithm:
Prevention type  SituationTreatment
        Primary preventionLDL > 190 mg/dLHigh-intensity statin  
Primary preventionAge 40-75LDL 70-189 mg/dLPatients with diabetesModerate-intensity statin, unless 10-year ASCVD risk > 7.5%  
Primary preventionEvaluating 10-year clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) score  ASCVD risk > 7.5%: high intensity statin
 
ASCVD risk > 5% but <7.5%: moderate-intensity statin  
Secondary preventionPatients with clinical ASCVD< 75 years old: high intensity statin 
> 75 years old: moderate-intensity statin  

We hope this review helped refresh your clinical knowledge on dyslipidemia!

Best of luck,

Sam Tamjidi

RxPharmacist Team

References:

  1. Micromedex Solutions. Greenwood Village, CO: Truven Health Analytics. http://micromedex.com/. Accessed October 30, 2020.

What Pharmacists Need to know about Diabetes

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 34.2 million people, or 1 in every 10, in the United States have diabetes. Diabetes is 7th on the list of leading causes of death while the total estimated medical costs and costs associated with lost work and wages equates to an estimated $327 billion.

Diabetes, otherwise known as increased sugar levels (hyperglycemia) may be a result of decreased insulin secretion, decreased insulin sensitivity, or both. It can present itself in one of two forms of the following:

  • Type 1
    • Autoimmune destruction of beta cells
    • Loss of insulin production
    • Must use insulin injections
  • Type 2
    • Insulin resistance
    • Decreased insulin production over time
    • Associated with obesity, physical inactivity, family history
  • Signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
  • Risk factors:
Risk Factors for Diabetes
  • General Screening Criteria:
    • All patients with BMI greater than or equal to 25 kg/m2 + 1 risk factor
    • Children/adolescents with obesity + 1 risk factor
    • 45 years old if no risk factors are present
    • Pregnant women at 24-48 weeks
PrediabetesDiabetes
->Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) 100-125 mg/dL; or
->2-hour glucose after glucose tolerance test 140-199 mg/dL; or
->A1c 5.7-6.4%  
->Symptoms + random plasma glucose > 200 mg/dL; or
->2-hour glucose after glucose tolerance test > 200 mg/dL; or
->FPG > 126 mg/dL; or
->A1c > 6.5%  
  • Glycemic targets (per ADA guidelines):
    • A1c < 7%
    • 80-130 mg/dL pre-prandial plasma glucose
    • < 180 mg/dL post-prandial plasma glucose
    • A1c should be measured quarterly if not at goal
      • Or twice yearly if at goal
      • (A1c – 2) x 30 = average blood glucose
  • Drugs that may increase blood glucose levels:
Drugs that may increase blood glucose levels
  • Non-drug treatment options:
    • Smoking cessation
    • Weight loss
      • 3500 kcal weekly reduction = 1 lb weight loss
      • Waist circumference < 35 inches for females and < 40 inches for males
    • Nutrition
      • Carbs from vegetables, fruits, grains, and dairy
      • Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber
      • Limit saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium
      • 15 g = 1 serving of carbohydrates
    • Physical activity
      • 150 min/week, moderate intensity
      • No more than 2 consecutive days off
      • Resistance training at least 2x/week
Drug treatments (oral medications)
  • Additional notes on oral drug classes:
    • Biguanides
      • Take with food
      • Use of alcohol increases the risk of lactic acidosis
      • Discontinue before any imaging with iodinated contrast; resume after 48 hrs
    • Meglitinides
      • Take 1-30 minutes before meals
      • If skipping a meal, skip dose as well
    • Sulfonylureas
      • Take with breakfast
        • Exception: Glipizide IR 30 minutes before breakfast
      • Glyburide – avoid in elderly and patients with renal impairment
    • Thiazolidinediones
      • Take with meals
      • May take weeks to take effect
      • Additional warnings:
        • Bladder cancer (pioglitazone only)
        • Risk of macular edema
        • Fracture risk
        • Hepatic failure
        • Resumption of ovulation
    • SGLT-2 Inhibitors
      • Caution when taking with diuretics and NSAIDs (due to risk of hypotension and acute kidney injury)
      • Additional warnings:
        • Genital infections
        • Hypotension
        • Increased LDL
        • Renal insufficiency
        • Ketoacidosis
      • Monitor K+ with Canagliflozin
    • DPP-4 Inhibitors
      • Take in the morning
Drug treatments (injectable medications)

Additional notes on injectable drug classes:

  • GLP-1 Agonists:
    • Exenatide and lixisenatide are administered 60 minutes before a meal
    • All others given without regard to food
  • Amylin Analog
    • Used in treatment of both type I and II diabetes
    • Reduce mealtime insulin by 50%

  • Drug treatments (Insulin)
    • For all insulins:
      • Side effects: weight gain
      • Warnings; hypoglycemia, hypokalemia
      • Never use pens for more than one individual
      • Most are 100 units/mL concentration
      • High risk medications
    • Dosing strategies
      • Basal insulin
        • Long or intermediate acting
        • Mainly affect fasting blood glucose
      • Bolus insulin
        • Rapid or short acting
        • Two purposes:
          • Prandial (mealtime) & correction (acute elevation)
Drug treatments (Insulin medications)
  • Insulins that do not require a prescription:
    • Regular insulin, NPH, and the premixed 70/30 combination
  • Insulin dosing for Type I diabetes:
    • Rapid-acting and basal insulin preferred
    • If using NPH and regular insulin
      • 2/3 NPH, 1/3 regular
    • Initiating basal/bolus insulin:
      • Calculate total daily dose (TDD)
        • 0.6 units/kg/day using TBW
      • Step 2: Divide TDD
        • 50% basal
        • 50% bolus
      • Step 3: Divide the bolus among 3 meals
    • Based on the amount of carbohydrates in a meal, meal-time insulin can be adjusted using rule of 500 (rapid-acting insulin) or rule of 450 (regular insulin)
      • (500 or 450)/TDD = g of carbs covered by 1 unit of insulin
  • Correction factor/dose
    • Factor:
      • Determines how much blood sugar will drop for every 1 unit of insulin. Uses the rule of 1800 (rapid-acting insulin) or rule of 1500 (regular insulin)
        • (1800 or 1500)/TDD = correction factor for 1 unit of insulin
  • Dose:
    • Amount of insulin required to bring blood glucose back to normal: [(blood glucose now) – (target blood glucose)]/   correction factor = correction dose
  • General treatment algorithm for Type II Diabetes:
General treatment algorithm for Type II Diabetes
  • For A1c greater than or equal to 8.5%: Jump straight to dual treatment
  • A1C > 10%: Think insulin
  • Cardiovascular benefit:
    • GLP1 agonists: liraglutide, semaglutide, exenatide
    • SGLT2 inhibitors: empagliflozin, canagliflozin
  • Patient-specific factors
    • Drugs that minimize hypoglycemia:
      • DPP4 inhibitor, GLP1 agonist, SGLT2 or TZD
    • Drugs that promote weight loss:
      • GLP1 agonist or SGLT2 inhibitors
    • Drugs with cost concerns:
      • Sulfonylurea or TZD
  • Combinations to avoid:
    • DPP4 inhibitors + GLP1
    • Sulfonylureas + insulin
  • Insulin dosing for Type II diabetes:
    • Initiate basal insulin after patient fails to reach or maintain goal on multiple oral therapies
    • Starting dose: 0.1-0.2 units/kg/day or 10 units/day
    • Titrate by 10-15% or 2-4 units once or twice weekly until fasting blood glucose at goal
    • If patient reaches fasting blood glucose goal but their A1c is still above goal:
      • Consider the addition of rapid acting mealtime insulin or GLP-1 agonist
  • Insulin administration:
    • Abdomen is the injection site (avoid belly button)
    • May also inject in thighs, buttocks, arms
      • Be consistent with administrations
    • Prime before each dose
    • Rotate sites
  • Hypoglycemia is common with insulin products, thus important to be aware of what to look out for and how to treat it
    • Defined as a blood glucose < 70 mg/dl
    • Symptoms: sweating, pallor, irritable, hunger, lack of coordination, sleepy
      • Beta blockers mask most except hunger and sweating
    • Treatment
      • Consume 15-20 g of glucose/simple carbohydrates
      • Recheck glucose levels after 15 minutes
      • Repeat if needed
      • Eat a small meal/snack to prevent recurrence
    • Glucagon is used only if patient is unconscious
  • Diabetes in pregnancy
    • Gestational diabetes: during pregnancy
      • Risks
        • Macrosomia
        • Hypoglycemia at birth
        • Obesity and type 2 diabetes
      • Management
        • Lifestyle modifications
        • Insulin added if needed (preferred)
        • Metformin and glyburide used
      • Goals:
        • Fasting < 95 mg/dL
        • 1-hour post-meal less than or equal to 140
        • 1-hour post-meal less than or equal to 120

We hope this review helped refresh your clinical knowledge on diabetes. Next up, we will take a look at dyslipidemia.

Best of luck,

Sam Tamjidi

RxPharmacist Team

References:

  1. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/index.html. Accessed October 26, 2020.
  2. Micromedex Solutions. Greenwood Village, CO: Truven Health Analytics. http://micromedex.com/. Accessed October 26, 2020.

A Brief Review on Hypertension for Pharmacists

With so many organ systems, disease states, and medications to remember, preparation for the NAPLEX may often times seem like a daunting task. While there can be a considerable amount of material to go over for each clinical module, there are certainly some things that deserve more focus than others. This brief review will cover some of the most important information you need to know about hypertension when preparing for your upcoming exam.

General information:

  • Hypertension (HTN) is asymptomatic
  • HTN increases the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure
  • Risk factors include the following:
    • High sodium and fat diet, physical inactivity, obesity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, genetics and family history, age, sex (women more likely than men), and race (African Americans more likely than any other race)
    • Drugs can also increase blood pressure, including the following:
      • Amphetamines, cocaine, pseudoephedrine, immunosuppressants, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), steroids, ethanol, caffeine, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), oral contraceptives, erythropoietin

Blood pressure categories:

 Ultimate blood pressure goal:

  • 130/80 mmHg

Treatments:

Four preferred drug classes for the following patient subgroups:

  • Non-African American: Thiazide diuretic, CCB, ACE inhibitor or ARB
  • African American: Thiazide diuretic
  • Patients with chronic kidney disease or diabetes with albuminuria ACE inhibitor or ARB
  • Initiate two drugs regimens if blood pressure is > 150/90 mmHg

Additional information:

  • ACE inhibitors, ARBs, Aliskiren
    • Do not use with Entresto
    • Do not use any combination of ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and aliskiren for treatment
  • CCBs
    • CYP3A4 substrates, avoid CYP3A4 inhibitors (eg, grapefruit)
    • Caution with ankle swelling and/or irregular heartbeat
    • Amlodipine and felodipine are the safest to use in patients with HF
  • BBs
    • No longer preferred for HTN treatment
      • Primarily used first-line for heart disease, post myocardial infarction, and HF
    • Use with caution when taking other drugs that decrease HR
    • Mask symptoms of hypoglycemia
  • Diuretics
    • Take doses in the morning or afternoon to avoid frequent urination symptoms at night
    • Provide K+ supplementation to compensate for decreased K+ levels
      • This does not remain true for K+ sparing diuretics
  • Hypertensive emergency
    • Blood pressure > 180/120 mmHg
    • Acute organ damage
    • IV medication used for treatment
      • Clevidipine, nicardipine, diltiazem, verapamil, enalaprilat, esmolol, labetalol, metoprolol tartrate, propranolol, nitroglycerin, nitroprusside, chlorothiazide
    • Goal is to decrease blood pressure by < 25% within first hour
  • Hypertensive urgency
    • Blood pressure > 180/20 mmHg
    • No organ damages
    • Oral medication for treatment
  • Pregnancy
    • Treatment with labetalol, methyldopa or nifedipine XR

Treatments (non-pharmacological):

  • Lifestyle modifications
    • DASH diet, limit salt intake (<1,500 mg/day), exercise, limit alcohol consumption, maintain proper weight (BMI between 18.5 – 24.9)

Be on the look-out for our next review, which will focus on diabetes.

Best of luck,

Sam Tamjidi

RxPharmacist Team

References: Micromedex Solutions. Greenwood Village, CO: Truven Health Analytics. http://micromedex.com/. Accessed October 12, 2020.

Pharmacy provider status – Are we there yet?

The advancement of the pharmacy profession has allowed pharmacists to take on various roles and provide services that extend well beyond what people think. Often times, people think the role of a pharmacist may be assumed as the stereotypical 12-hour workday, consisting of only dispensing medications. However, pharmacists have gone to school for much more than to just dispense, and the magnitude of education and training received throughout school is pertinent to providing exceptional patient care throughout all types of pharmacy. As fellow pharmacists and pharmacy students, we all know too well that we have to go through a rigorous 4-year doctorate program. Pharmacists are now involved with advanced patient-centered services that include transitions of care, medication management, medication reviews with thorough monitoring, chronic disease management, disease education, prevention and wellness services, and patient education. To reinforce how essential they are, pharmacists have been amongst the frontline workers who have played a significant role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The extent to which accessibility of a pharmacist in one’s community took national stage when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has authorized state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns under the supervision of the pharmacist to administer, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines to individuals ages 3 or older. Without the efforts of implementing mobile testing facilities, composing response plans, providing curbside delivery, compounding hand sanitizers, and educating the public on methods to prevent spread, the nation’s population may have been much more vulnerable to its virulence. Their highly talented skills, in addition to reasonable accessibility, allows pharmacist to be trusted amongst patients. In fact, pharmacists are rated among the top 5 most trusted professionals year after year by Gallup.

What is provider status?

According to the Social Security Act (SSA), obtaining provider status means pharmacists can participate in Medicare Part B programs and bill Medicare for services under their scope of practice. However, at this time, and despite all their expertise, pharmacists are omitted from this status as the federal government does not consider these health care professionals as medical providers. Currently, those with provider status are professionals employed as physicians, physician’s assistants, certified nurse practitioners, qualified psychologists, clinical social workers, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists.

While a large component of this battle surrounds pharmacists fighting to gain provider status under Medicare Part B, reimbursement from Part D also appears to be controversial. Although Medicare Part D reimburses pharmacies for providing medication therapy management to select patients, the program includes only a small set of services that pharmacists are capable of supplying.

What barriers hold pharmacists from reaching this level of authority?

  • Congress members deliberately direct their focus towards the nation’s spending and other issues, including immigration.
    • Due to financial pressures, those making decisions are more focused on reducing health care expenditure, rather than adding new spending costs.
  • Congress equates provider status with the “fee-for-service” (FFS) payment model.
    • FFS is a model in which payment is contingent to the quantity of care, over quality.
    • Legislators may be unwilling to pursue old payment reform as newer payment models evolve.
  • Health care professionals with provider status who bill Medicare through the fee-for-service payment model are in a position of strength, both politically and financially.
    • These individuals may oppose the pharmacy provider status initiative.

While these barriers may impede the ultimate goal of gaining provider status, the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) is taking initiative by contacting health care providers, consumer organizations, payers, and policy makers, all in an effort to educate on the health and economic benefits a pharmacist provides.

What does this mean?

“Provider status is shorthand for ensuring that patients can get access to the clinical services that pharmacists provide and that pharmacists get reimbursed for providing those services” noted vice president of policy for the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, Krystalyn K. Weaver, PharmD. Therefore, this exclusion limits Medicare beneficiaries from accessing pharmacist services.

Tom Menighan, EVP and CEO of APhA, also addressed this concern by stating: “Beyond being unfair to our profession, this lack of federal recognition restricts the contributions pharmacists can make to improving patient care.”

Why is this important?

There is an absolute need to improve health outcomes. In 2016, a released report revealed that the United States spends approximately $1.1 trillion annually on treatment for chronic health conditions, equivalent to almost 6% of the country’s GDP. Additional statistics include the following:

  • 1.5 million cases of preventable medication related side effects
  • $290 billion spent annually to treat preventable medication related side effects
  • $100 billion spent annually towards hospitalizations

Improvements in disease state management through proper medication use would not only go a long way in reducing these costs but will also advance patient quality of life in a cost-efficient manner. Who can serve this role and provide comprehensive education to help treat, manage, and prevent diseases? Pharmacists. All evidence through studies and practice-based experience has shown that pharmacists have all the tools to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs; however, the absence of provider status and proper payment models have obstructed patients and health care providers from accessing full benefits received through pharmacist services. Provided below are opportunities that pharmacists have taken upon to increase health outcomes:

So, is now the time to gain provider status?

Amidst the ongoing global pandemic we face in today’s world, now is certainly the best time to gain full provider status. Currently, as of October 2020, there are only 37 states that have pharmacists classified as “medical providers” under the provisions of Medicare Part B, resulting in a lack of reimbursement for the clinical services provided. Being such an integral part of health care, pharmacists are well-equipped to take on much healthcare challenges, and COVID-19 is reassuring that certainty.

**October 2020 Legislation Update**

The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act (H.R. 592/ S. 109) is a bipartisan bill that will recognize pharmacists as providers under Medicare Part B. Furthermore, this bill will:

  • Allow Medicare beneficiaries to access the services provided by a pharmacist
  • Focus on providing pharmacist care and services to Medicare beneficiaries in medically underserved communities
  • Provide Medicare reimbursement for pharmacist services in medically underserved communities

Be a patron, support the cause, because now is the time to reward pharmacists for their purposeful work.

Best,

Sam Tamjidi

RxPharmacist Team

References:

  1. Gebhart, F. (2019, June 13). On the Road to Provider Status. Retrieved October 08, 2020, from https://www.drugtopics.com/view/road-provider-status
  2. Provider Status for Pharmacists. (2017, March). Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://www.amcp.org/policy-advocacy/policy-advocacy-focus-areas/where-we-stand-position-statements/provider-status-for-pharmacists
  3. Provider status: What pharmacists need to know now. (2013, August). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.pharmacist.com/provider-status-what-pharmacists-need-know-now
  4. The Costs of Chronic Disease in the U.S. (2020, September 02). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://milkeninstitute.org/reports/costs-chronic-disease-us
  5. Weitzman, D. (2020, October 07). Provider Status for Pharmacists: It’s About Time. Retrieved October 08, 2020, from https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/provider-status-for-pharmacists-its-about-time
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