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Latest news and updates about the Medicare and pharmacy industries.

April 17: Retail Prescriptions for Acute Drugs Are Down

Posted on in Industry Updates by Amplicare Team

Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week.

The Story

Prescriptions of vaccines and medications for acute illnesses have decreased considerably as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Scripts for chronic maintenance medications, on the other hand, are holding steady or increasing. 

Why It Matters

Due to safety measures such as stay-at-home orders, patients with acute illnesses or those in need of preventive care like vaccinations are less likely to visit the doctor to seek treatment. According to an analysis by research company Bernstein, total prescriptions for acute use medications fell by 28% since February. Brand vaccines, including for the flu, shingles, and pneumonia, saw the largest drop. 

On the other end of the spectrum, patients with chronic conditions are still consistently filling scripts. Prescriptions for chronic therapies for conditions including diabetes, mental health, and respiratory agents grew 2% at the end of March. The analysis also noted that medications for HIV and anticoagulants have not experienced any impact due to the pandemic. 

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As pharmacies adapt to new demands and challenges, enrolling patients in MedSync programs makes sense from a clinical and operational standpoint. Where possible, pharmacists can also conduct medication therapy management (MTM) consultations by phone, making it easier for patients to adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.  A 2012 study found that 60% of patients prefer phone MTM to face-to-face MTM services. Phone consultations also provide a way to reach patients for longer periods of time with fewer interruptions. With the use of telehealth on the rise for both patients and physicians, it may only be a matter of time before the pharmacy industry fully embraces this virtual technology.

Other healthcare news to know:

1. Licensed pharmacists have the authority to order and administer COVID-19 tests. HHS.gov.

2. The CDC has issued updated COVID-19 guidelines for pharmacies with four major changes. Pharmacy Times.

3. PBM case is not listed in cases the Supreme Court will hear by phone next month. Inside Health Policy.

4. As demand for ventilators increases, pharmacists warn of low supplies of medications needed to run them. Associated Press.

5. Majority of health insurers are waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 testing, according to a new eHealth survey. Health Leaders.

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