Making Decisions Together: Bringing Patients Into the Conversation

It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease the patient has. — William Osler, M.D., 1913 Understanding the patient being treating can sometimes make more difference to treatment outcomes than knowing which disease is being treated. This nugget of wisdom, noted above…

Turning the Body into a Cancer-Fighting Machine

Kimberly M. Hicks, Pharm.D., M.H.A., Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy The body’s immune system possesses all the tools it needs to kill cancer cells, so why does cancer sneak past our defenses so many times? Cancer cells – in an elaborate game of cat and mouse – employ numerous techniques to cloak themselves…

Patient Assistance Lends a Hand

Specialty pharmacy continues to see annual increases in terms of U.S. spending on prescriptions for the treatment of complex or chronic diseases. URAC estimates that specialty drugs account for more than $50 billion of U.S. drug expenditures and comprises nearly 20 percent of the total pharmaceutical revenue. Specialty pharmacy is expected to make up approximately…

“It’s Personal”

Guest Blog: Kimberly M. Hicks, Pharm.D., M.H.A., Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy BioPlus is committed to supporting and raising awareness of the importance of breast cancer patient education, as well as the importance of early detection and prevention through annual mammograms. Cancer is class of diseases manifesting with abnormal cell growth. There are…

Eat Nuts for a Longer Life

Time to put nuts on the menu: a new study reveals that regularly including nuts in one’s diet slashes the risk of dying from any cause (that is, total mortality), as well as from the specific causes of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. In March 2012 I shared with readers in my blog Going…

Overcoming Lupus Medication Compliance Challenges

The health challenges of lupus can be debilitating, yet two out of three lupus patients cared under Medicaid do not fully comply with their medication treatment plan. This new statistic emerged from a presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals. Poorly controlled lupus can lead to disease…

Expensive Out-of-Pocket Costs: The Latest Treatment Side Effect?

High health care costs leading to financial strain should be considered a side effect of treating a disease for some patients, posits Peter Ubel, M.D., Professor at Duke University, and his colleagues in a provocative new article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Most physicians speak openly with patients about a new chemotherapy medication…

Prescribers: Want Your Patients Treated? Then Don’t Hand Them a Prescription

When it comes to the treatment of tricky health conditions with specialty medications – such as Humira or Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis, Vivitrol for alcohol dependence, or medications to treat hepatitis C – patients are more likely to start treatment if their prescribing physician doesn’t hand over a paper prescription. How so? There are three…

Even Doctors Doubt Patients’ Medication Compliance

   Patient medication compliance numbers remain so disappointingly low that even, it seems, doctors assume that their own patients won’t follow medication directions. In a new survey this year by DoctorDirectory.com, the vast majority of physicians (95 percent) think that fewer than 30 percent of their patients are fully compliant with taking their medications. That’s…

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Find Treatment Hard to Stick With

Arthritis & Rheumatism, only one in five people with rheumatoid arthritis reach an adherence rate of at least 80 percent for their oral medications. In addition, one-third of patient taking non-biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) don’t comply with the use of these medications. This study enrolled 107 RA patients during a two-year period at…

Psoriasis: The Summer Sun Approach

It’s fitting that August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, especially when you consider that the plentiful summer sun this month serves as natural medication for the irritated skin of psoriasis. Sun exposure (just a half hour a day) can help the 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes…

Chemotherapy on the Brain

Simply surviving cancer gives reason enough to celebrate. To sweeten the pot, researchers at the 2013 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference suggest cancer survivors garner another perk: cancer appears to confer protection against developing Alzheimer’s disease. Research presented at this conference drew on data collected from 3.5 million veterans age 65 and older who did not…

Creating a “Safety Culture”

The missing ingredient needed to create safer healthcare and better patient outcomes? A “culture of safety,” says Cynthia Barnard, MBA, from Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, who led a National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) task force on the topic of patient safety. Patient safety – while always on the minds of caring physicians everywhere –…

Pharmacists for Patient Safety

Pharmacists are a key component in improving patient safety, according to a new report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This report, called Making Health Care Safer II, serves as a long-awaited update to the first report on this…

Saving Health Care Dollars, One Injection at a Time

As health care costs continue to rise, cost containment is on everyone’s mind. Cutting services and benefits might save money, but it’s not a very satisfying way to serve patients. Easily implementable health care practices and policies that reduce costs while preserving high-level care make much more sense. Self-administration of injectable medications fits the bill…

Prescription “Stretching” Harms Health

Health care costs for patients, including prescription medications, continue to rise. Out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions reached $45 billion for Americans in 2011 (the most recent year data is available). For a growing number of people, Rx costs simply exceed their ability to pay. Overburdened Americans rely on two less-than-healthy methods to stretch their health care…

Shingles Not an Issue with Newer Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments

Guest Blog: Monica Morgan, Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy As if the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) weren’t trouble enough, people with this autoimmune disease also develop shingles (herpes zoster) infections more often than the general population. An increasingly popular rheumatoid arthritis treatment – anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) medications –…

Going Nuts

Did you catch last Monday’s landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that nuts in the diet can protect against heart disease? Usually, I’m fairly critical of nutritional studies that are related to health, since so many are poorly designed and biased. This study, known as the PREDIMED trial and led by…