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  • Echinacea is a popular herbal treatment and dietary supplement promoted as a self-care remedy for the common cold. This purple coneflower, part of the daisy family and native to North America, was historically used in Native American medicines. Three species thought to boost the immune system—Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea pallida—are used in herbal supplements, extracts, and teas. But do echinacea's potential anti-inflammatory and antibiotic health benefits really prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold?

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  • At this time of year, more than half of us settle on a New Year's resolution, but fewer than 10% will successfully achieve it. One of the more common resolutions is to quit smoking, and as we know, achieving this goal is very difficult and takes significant commitment. Pharmacists can use the following strategies to help patients achieve their resolution and improve their health and quality of life.

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  • On October 22, 2020, FDA approved the antiviral drug remdesivir (Veklury—Gilead Sciences) as the first treatment for adult and pediatric patients older than 12 years and at least 40 kg (about 88 lb) who have been hospitalized with severe COVID-19. Remdesivir received both the agency's Fast Track and Priority Review designations, as well as a Material Threat Medical Countermeasure Priority Review Voucher, which “provides additional incentives for certain medical products intended to treat or prevent harm from specific chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats,” according to an FDA press release.

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  • The American Heart Association (AHA) released new guidelines for CPR that are specific to adult, pediatric, and neonatal resuscitation. The guidelines include 491 recommendations, with important updates on what to do in opioid-related emergencies and new standards for CPR in children, among others.

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  • I lisa Bernstein, PharmD, JD, FAPhA, has some serious bona fides. Before she joined APhA as senior vice president of pharmacy practice and government affairs, she held several prominent roles at FDA, including deputy director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Office of Compliance. Bernstein took on that role after serving as senior policy advisor and then director of pharmacy affairs in the FDA Office of the Commissioner; outside FDA, she spent time as Pfizer's senior associate director of worldwide regulatory affairs.

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  • With a new administration in the White House but control of the U.S. Senate unlikely to change, the odds of federal legalization of marijuana in the next few years are remote. When it eventually happens, however, federal marijuana legalization could come in two basic forms: rescheduling and descheduling. Rescheduling would change it from a Schedule 1 narcotic—completely illegal under the Controlled Substances Act—to Schedule 2 or 3, making it legally available through a medical prescription. Descheduling, by contrast, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate it separately, like recreational alcohol.

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  • >Pharmacy personnel have responsibilities to patients and to the public. Many of these responsibilities are set out in pharmacy laws. Pharmacy personnel who report unlawful activities to their employers may have legal protection if they are terminated from employment in retaliation for reporting unlawful activities by others employed by the pharmacy. To qualify for so-called “whistleblower” protection, the terminated employee must reference a specific law that forbids the reported conduct. A Florida pharmacy technician's wrongful termination lawsuit was recently dismissed because she failed to cite a specific law that her supervising pharmacist had allegedly violated.
  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has tested the capacity and capabilities of the public health system in the United States in countless ways. As frontline health care providers, pharmacists have stepped up to provide patient care in a constantly evolving public health emergency (PHE). Recognizing pharmacists’ accessibility in communities across the country, the federal government has turned to pharmacists as critical access points for COVID-19 testing and immunization. This article, which is current as of December 2020, describes 2020 federal legislative and regulatory activities affecting pharmacy practice, including new and proposed policy changes.

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  • In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on December 11, a worldwide group of researchers showed that adding baricitinib, an orally administered, selective inhibitor of Janus kinase 1 and 2, to remdesivir can reduce recovery time and accelerate improvement in clinical status among patients with COVID-19. FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the dual treatment on November 19.

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  • Practitioners should initiate antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after an HIV diagnosis, starting with a three-drug regimen or a now two-drug regimen for most patients, according to updated recommendations on HIV treatment in adults from the International Antiviral Society–USA Panel. The recommendations also address preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with an oral regimen for individuals at risk for HIV, along with use of a long-acting injection given every 8 weeks, pending regulatory approval and availability.

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  • A study published in the November 2020 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacists shows inpatient clinical pharmacists how to adapt or create anticoagulation guidance in their facilities for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Study authors recommended a three-tiered approach to stratifying anticoagulation intensity depending on patient-specific factors, including clinical status, oxygen requirements, preexisting comorbidities/disease states, ambulatory status, lab values, and other parameters.

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  • Along term care (LTC) pharmacy reported to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) an increase in prescriptions for transdermal fentanyl patches for older adult patients. In most cases, the pharmacists reviewing the orders determined that the fentanyl patches had been inappropriately prescribed for opioid-naive patients, sometimes to treat acute rather than chronic pain. Several of the events began in a hospital, with opioid-naive patients receiving prescriptions for fentanyl patches after treatment in an emergency department (ED) or upon discharge and transfer to an LTC facility.

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