The Dose: October 2018 Issue

October 31, 2018

 

Get your monthly Dose of the latest in pharmacy news. We deliver industry highlights straight to your inbox, so you can keep your finger on the industry's pulse.  Click here to sign up now! From reasons why small independent pharmacies are on the decline to America's staggering STD rates, this is what's happening for August.

 

Why DNA Testing is the Future of Infectious Disease Diagnostics

 

More hospitals are opting to use genomic services as opposed to traditional lab tests for infectious disease (ID) diagnostics. This cutting-edge technology offers several benefits over older methods.

 

For one, it’s more precise and can detect microbes that don’t exist outside of the human body. Plus it delivers results much more quickly. For traditional lab work, the bacteria need to sit in a warm salt-sugar solution for days. The doctor may not be able to delay treatment in this time, so they prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics to their patients without a diagnosis.

 

Though this strategy has saved lives, it has also fueled the rise of antibiotic resistance. That’s why another major benefit of DNA testing is being able to put a stop to excessive antibiotic use. As Mickey Kertesz, the cofounder and CEO of the genomic research firm Karius, said:

 

The pharma industry worked so hard to brew all these great therapies, but we don’t know which ones to use. If we can cover a broad range of microbes in a single test, then we can look at everything at once and only treat what shows up. That would be a huge paradigm shift from how doctors currently think.

 

First Flu Drug in 20 Years to Hit the Market

 

Flu season has officially started, and we can only hope this year won’t be as bad as the last. The CDC reported 80,000 deaths from the flu season of 2017-18, making it the deadliest season in 42 years.

 

Now, the FDA is taking a stand by approving the first flu drug in 20 years. As FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb reported, “With thousands of people getting the flu every year, and many people becoming seriously ill, having safe and effective treatment alternatives is critical. This novel drug provides an important, additional treatment option.”

 

The new drug is called baloxavir marboxil, which will hit the market as Xofluza. Not only is this new treatment more cost-effective than existing drugs like Tamiflu, it also has an innovative mechanism that blocks the enzyme that the flu targets to copy and spread itself.

 

The Naloxone Controversy: A Blessing and a Curse Amid the Opioid Crisis

 

Naloxone has been our best weapon against opioid overdose, saving the lives of thousands of people. Just in the first eight weeks of 2017, the number of naloxone prescriptions skyrocketed by 340% in comparison to the previous year.

 

Of course, many opioid users wouldn’t be alive today without naloxone. But now researchers are investigating the darker side of the drug.

 

Some studies suggest that naloxone gives addicts a feeling of invincibility that leads them to engage in riskier behavior. In fact, some investigators went so far as to say that the drug may cause more deaths than it prevents.

 

These findings have spurred a searing controversy in the medical community—and for good reason. Only one thing remains clear, however: We need more research to determine whether naloxone hurts more than it helps.

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