HelixTalk - Rosalind Franklin University's College of Pharmacy Podcast

In this episode, we discuss the fascinating science of pharmaceutics with Dr. Kristen Ahlschwede and Dr. Rahul Deshmukh. We explore how dosage forms and excipients play an important role in how a drug product behaves in the human body with a particular focus on fentanyl patches, osmotic tablets (with laser-drilled holes), Depakote Sprinkles, and IV amiodarone.

Key Concepts

  1. Fentanyl patches were reformulated from a drug-in-a-reservoir system to an adhesive matrix system to prevent abuse and misuse. The new formulation prevents fentanyl from "leaking" out when cut.
  2. Osmotic tablet systems, such as Procardia XL, Glucotrol XL, and Concerta, use an "active" layer (containing drug) adjacent to a "push" layer that is osmotically active. When the push layer is exposed to water in the GI tract, it swells and pushes the active layer through a small laser-drilled precision hole.
  3. "Sprinkle" dosage forms typically involve small pellets inside a capsule, such as Depakote Sprinkles. The capsule itself does not delay or extend release; instead, the pellets themselves are involved in prolonging the absorption profile of the drug.
  4. Amiodarone IV is commercially available in two formulations -- the conventional formulation (Cordarone) contains benzyl alcohol and tween 80 to solubilize the drug but these excipients are associated with hypotension. A newer formulation (Nexterone) uses cyclodextrin as a solubilizing agent and is not associated with hypotension (although has a risk of nephrotoxicity, especially at higher cumulative doses).
Direct download: 138_-_pharmaceutics.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we reveal what goes on behind the scenes for drug pricing and pharmacy reimbursement with Dr. Benjamin Jolley. Our discussion covers important concepts like PBMs, DIR fees, MAC pricing, and even possible upcoming changes at the federal government.

Key Concepts

  1. Prescription drug reimbursement is a major factor in the decline of independent pharmacies nationwide. Complex reimbursement models, fees, and drug pricing structures are frequently not well understood by both patients and many healthcare providers.
  2. A pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) is a company hired by an insurance company to handle prescription drug coverage and reimbursement. Three PBMs control more than three-quarters of the entire US market and can often dictate the terms of a drug reimbursement contract with pharmacies.
  3. PBMs determine how much they will pay for the cost of a medication using either a benchmark (such as the average wholesale price minus some percentage) or a list of the maximum allowable cost (MAC) maintained by the PBM. Pharmacies are required to accept the PBM’s reimbursement amount regardless of the cost the pharmacy paid to acquire the drug from a wholesaler.
  4. DIR fees, clawbacks, and PBM rebate or discount agreements with manufacturers have resulted in lower reimbursements to pharmacies, higher drug prices for patients, and increased profits for PBMs.
Direct download: 137_-_pbm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT