The Rx Consultant
 

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  • New Genetic Test Identifies Types of Drug Metabolism
    The FDA has approved a directto- consumer test that assesses genetic variations that may affect a ... Read More
  • New Antiviral for Influenza
    Baloxavir marboxil (Xofluza®) is the first flu antiviral to be approved in 20 years. It inhibi... Read More
  • Aspirin vs Other Anticoagulants After Knee Replacement
    Studies have shown that venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk is highest during the 90-days followin... Read More
  • Bleeding Risk Linked with Synthetic Cannabinoids
    During a 4-month period, Illinois had 164 cases of bleeding linked with synthetic cannabinoid us... Read More
  • Dangerous Combination: Pregabalin Plus an Opioid
    Pregabalin, gabapentin and opioids are commonly used for pain management. While the product lab... Read More
  • Aspirin Risks Outweigh Benefits in Older Adults
    There is a new chapter in the debate about the effectiveness of aspirin for primary prevention o... Read More
  • This review is intended to improve the provider’s ability to safely treat chronic pain. The general concepts of pain management are summarized, with a focus on drug therapy options. Greater emphasis is placed on opioids due to the current opioid epidemic in the US, and the responsibility of healthcare providers to help prevent abuse and misuse.

    Chronic pain management is a global health priority. Millions of adults (11%-19% of the US population) suffer daily from chronic, noncancer pain. A conservative estimate of the economic burden of pain in the US, including both healthcare costs and lost work productivity, is $560 - $635 billion annually. Most patients use a combination of non-drug approaches and medication to help alleviate pain. Although all drug treatments have risks that must be carefully weighed against the potential benefits, opioids carry the significant risks of addiction and respiratory depression. The increasing rate of opioid overdose deaths, which was 5 times higher in 2016 compared with 1999, has overwhelmed this country – and created pressure for providers to improve their knowledge of pain management...


  • This issue highlights the use of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, sodium glucose transport protein-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, newer insulin formulations, and the expert guideline recommendations focused on individualization of therapy.

    In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control reported that over 30 million people in the US (~10% of the population) have diabetes, including 7.2 million who are undiagnosed. The total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the US was $327 billion in 2017.2 Individuals with diabetes incur average annual medical expenses of about $16,750 – more than twice the expense for people without diabetes.

    Over the last decade, the options for managing diabetes have grown dramatically – including new medication classes (eg, glucagon- like peptide-1 agonists, sodium-glucose transport protein-2 inhibitors), new insulin analogs (eg, insulin degludec, biosimilar insulins), and new technologies to help patients monitor their diabetes (eg, continuous glucose monitoring).

    Clinical practice guidelines have increased the emphasis on individualizing treatment options and goals to meet the needs of each patient. Patients have more say in the management of their diabetes and overall health. It is essential that healthcare providers help patients navigate the vast pool of information available at their fingertips. Diabetes patients can easily get confused by the often-conflicting information or misinformation available on television and the internet, and from friends and family members. Community providers need a good, working knowledge of patient-specific diabetes management, including current treatments and technologies...

  • This issue provides key information on influenza vaccines and antiviral medications for the 2018-2019 flu season, including precautions, side effects, and use in special populations.

    Influenza (commonly referred to as “the flu”) is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (eg, nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza viruses are primarily spread by respiratory transmission – through droplets from coughing or sneezing. The circulation of influenza viruses varies geographically, with transmission occurring between October and May in the Northern Hemisphere of the temperate region (which includes the US), April and September in the Southern Hemisphere of the temperate region, and year-round in tropical/sub-tropical regions. In the US, peak influenza activity often occurs in January and February.

    The flu can affect people of all ages, most frequently schoolaged children, usually causing asymptomatic infection or mild to moderate illness. Severe illness and death occur most often in vulnerable populations (eg, infants, elderly, and immunocompromised individuals). Each year, influenza affects 5-20% of the US population and causes 3,000-49,000 deaths from influenza-related complications. In the 2016-2017 season, 31 million Americans were infected, 14.5 million sought medical care, and 600,000 individuals were hospitalized due to influenza.

    Influenza vaccination is an important primary prevention strategy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination for all persons 6 months and older (unless contraindicated) starting in early fall, as soon as the

    vaccine becomes available. The vaccine is available in a variety of formulations; however, the ACIP makes no preferential recommendation and encourages vaccination with any licensed, age-appropriate vaccine during the 2018-2019 season. Despite the ACIP’s universal recommendation for influenza vaccination, only 47% of the target population in the US (individuals 6 months and older) received the vaccine during the 2016-2017 season.

  • This issue will bring you up to date on the recent guidelines for the management of hypertension in adults.

    Key Takeaways:
    • Two guidelines, two definitions of hypertension: The 2017 ACC/AHA guideline defines stage 1 hypertension as a BP of 130/80 mmHg or above. In contrast, the hypertension guideline from the 8th Joint National Committee (JNC 8) defines hypertension as BP of 140/90 mmHg or above - an ongoing controversy.
    • Think preventive: ACC/AHA recommends lifestyle changes for patients with "elevated" BP and those with stage 1 hypertension who have a 10-year cardiovascular risk less than 10%.
    • First Line Treatments: Both JNC 8 and ACC/AHA recommend thiazide-type diuretics (TTDs), angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), and calcium channel blockers (CCBs) as first line drug options.

    Hypertension is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease. According to a recent update from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 30% of adults in the US have hypertension. The rate of hypertension is similar among women (28%) and men (30%). It is more common among US non-hispanic black adults than any other ethnicity. Within age groups, the incidence ranges from 7.5% among adults 18-39 years old to 63% in those age 60 and older. Of concern is that hypertension control has not been improving. In 2015-2016, only 48% of adults with hypertension had achieved control which, at the time, was considered blood pressure less than 140/90 mmHg.

    Recently, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) released an updated guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation and management of hypertension.2 The 2017 ACC/AHA guideline was developed and approved in collaboration with 9 other professional groups, including the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). A multidisciplinary, team-based approach to hypertension management is strongly recommended (including the patient, primary provider, and other professionals such as cardiologists, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and dietitians)...

  • Thirty seven years after the first case of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was reported, 36.7 million people world-wide are living with HIV. About 1.8 million new HIV infections and 1 million AIDS-related deaths were reported in 2016. However, there has been significant progress in battling the disease over the last 20 years. Since 2001, the number of new cases decreased by 40% worldwide, and since 2005, AIDS-related deaths have declined by 56%. For the first time in the US, the number of new infections declined 18% between 2008 and 2014.

    Due to the availability of potent and better-tolerated antiretroviral agents (ARVs) that prolong life, the number of people living with HIV has increased significantly since the late 1990s. About 1.1 million people in the US are currently living with HIV infection. People living with HIV now have a similar life expectancy as the general population. The 50 year old and older age group accounted for almost one-half (45%) of persons living with HIV infection in the US in 2014. However, complete viral suppression with ARV treatment does not fully restore health. Deaths due to non-AIDS related complications worldwide range from 13.8% (sub-Saharan countries) to 62.3% (high-income countries). These include cardiovascular, kidney, and liver diseases; cancers; and neurologic disorders often associated with aging...

  • Fluoroquinolones are broad-spectrum antibiotics that have been used to treat infections of varying types and severity since the 1980s. They are well-tolerated by most patients; however, a growing body of evidence has linked fluoroquinolone use to rare but disabling, and potentially permanent, side effects involving tendons, peripheral nerves, and the central nervous system (CNS). Cardiac, gastrointestinal (GI), metabolic (glucose), and ocular side effects, as well as allergic reactions, have also been reported. In May 2016, the FDA determined that the risks of fluoroquinolone use for certain uncomplicated infections are generally greater than the benefits when other treatment options are available.

    Subsequently, the labels of all systemic (oral and injectable) fluoroquinolones were updated with strengthened warnings, including a revised boxed warning. The revisions include "limitation of use" statements advising that, in the treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis, acute bacterial exacerbation of chronic bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs), fluoroquinolones should be reserved for patients who have no other options.

    This issue reviews uncommon but serious side effects of systemic fluoroquinolones. Dosing considerations, use in children and during pregnancy, and potential drug interactions are also discussed...

 
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