Alternative Therapies and the Role of Pharmacy

Genomic Medicine on the Rise

Healthcare trends and treatments live in a constant state of flux. History underscores that we are ever progressing in the ways we treat disease. It is easy to see the correlation between technological advances and medical interventions. They tend to go hand in hand. And as for pharmacy, the days of “one-pill-fits-all” or pharmacy as “only a dispensing agent” is out the door in history’s archives. Pharmacy is flying into the future with its own wings of smart technology and superiorly advanced pharmacology to work along side medicine. Today, the healthcare ecosystem is at the brink of being able to treat patients as never seen before. The traditional track of a physician’s subjective findings of a patient, ranging from blood panels to clinical exams to MRIs and PETs to a vast number of other diagnostic tools, now brings us to have a detailed look inside the DNA, which is known as genomic medicine. And where medicine goes, so goes pharmacy. With the advent of Genomic Medicine come alternative therapies that affect the pharmacist’s role and the workflow of pharmacy.

Genomic Medicine

A little background

What is Genomic Medicine, briefly? Each person’s genome is made up of a unique sequence of DNA that contains the instructions for their growth and development. Differences in our DNA determine our unique characteristics and can also tell us what disease states may arise. Having a patient’s genetic map and genome sequencing where the order of their DNA is deciphered, which is made up of over 3 Read full article >

Medical Marijuana & the Opioid Crisis

America in Pain — Part 2

Read Part 1 of America in Pain — the Opioid Crisis HERE >

We are at a crisis point. The pressure is mounting. A line of demarcation has been drawn with the ink of history. America is at a turning point.

Why are people in so much pain? Why do we need so many new drugs to relieve our bodies? What has changed and now plagues us? Why do some use diversion tactics to get even more pills and stronger dosages?

Mankind’s proliferation of diseases and addictions has created an ever-expanding healthcare ecosystem. Pain is everywhere. Companies are racing in labs to find new answers and new cures. And some of the answers developed thus far can trigger addictions in some patients unbeknownst prior to prescribing and dispensing.

Medical Marijuana and Opioid Crisis

Footsteps of Our Ancestors

Long before the days of the FDA, retail and specialty pharmacies, and government regulations, the healing and curative nature of plants existed. Documentation of the use of Medicinal Marijuana dates back to roughly 2,900 BC in China. The Cannabis plant has healing properties our ancestors experienced whether it was with a medicine man, a shaman, or the community healer. Why was Cannabis “the drug of choice” often times among our ancestors? What gives Cannabis its distinctive healing properties? Is history repeating itself, allowing Medicinal Marijuana to return to us with enhanced understanding and intelligence to restore health? It is now legal in 29 states plus the District of Columbia.

Do you know that Marijuana is comprised of over 113 different chemical Read full article >

Opioids — America in Pain

The Crisis —  Part 1

Read Part 2 of America in Pain — Medical Marijuana & the Opioid Crisis HERE >

Providers wrote nearly a quarter of a billion opioid prescriptions in 2013, which is enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills. It’s nearly 2018, just where are we headed? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2017, more than 90 Americans die every day after overdosing on opioids. A pandemic is on the rise in the United States. How did we get here? And what can we as prescribers, pharmacists and service providers do in this raging battle on the street and in the home with opioid addiction?

pharmacies face opioid crisis

In the late 1990s, opioid pain medication prescriptions were launched into the hands of patients by prescribers after the pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted. In turn, the opioid runaway train departed on the rails of misuse before we had the chance to become aware of the highly addictive nature of these substances. Therefore, the healthcare ecosystem has been wildly affected by the infiltration of opioids.

Timeline Leading to Opioid Catastrophe:

  • 1996: The American Pain Society trademarked the slogan “Pain: The Fifth Vital Sign.” Purdue Pharma released OxyContin, the most widely used narcotic pain killer today.• 1998: The Veterans Health Administration and the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) both claimed pain as “The Fifth Vital Sign.”• Late 1990s: Groups such as the American Pain Foundation urged the tackling of untreated pain. Physicians were falsely educated that the risk of opioid addiction was less than 1%.
  • 1998: The Federation of State Medical Boards released a recommended policy reassuring doctors that they would not face regulatory action for prescribing large amounts of narcotics.
  • 2001: JCAHO issued new standards telling hospitals to ask patients regularly about pain and to make treating it a priority. JCAHO published a guide sponsored by Purdue Pharma that stated “Some clinicians have inaccurate and exaggerated concerns about addiction, tolerance, and risk of death. This attitude prevails despite the fact that there is no evidence that addiction is a significant issue when persons are given opioids for pain control.”
  • 2004: The Federation of State Medical Boards called on the state medical boards to make under-treatment of pain punishable for the first time.
  • 2007: Purdue Pharma and three executives pleaded guilty to misbranding of the drugs as less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications. They paid $635 million in fines.
  • 2010: Opioid sales were four times those in 1999.
  • 2012: 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids. Sales of opioids total more than $9 billion per year.
  • 2013: Opioid overdose deaths surpass car accidents as a leading cause of accidental death.
  • 2016: 1.4 million patients had an opioid dependency diagnosis. (This number does not account for the hundreds of thousands more fighting addictions while on Medicaid, Medicare, or uninsured.)
  • 2017: Lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other drug manufacturers of opioids continue. A pandemic ensues.

The Hook.

What creates the addiction? Opiates are not new. Mesopotamia first cultivated opium from poppies three and a half millennia BC, and humans have been questing after it ever since. Opium and all its derivations exert their effect through opiate receptors in our central nervous system. They possess the ability to produce extreme euphoria, such as an athlete derives from a runners high and mating behaviors Read full article >