HelixTalk - Rosalind Franklin University's College of Pharmacy Podcast

In this episode, we compare hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone, but specifically from a cardiovascular outcomes perspective when used in patients with hypertension.

Key Concepts

  1. Chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide, and indapamide are available thiazide diuretics for treatment of hypertension; however, hydrochlorothiazide is the most commonly used agent.
  2. Chlorthalidone is more potent in reducing blood pressure but also is associated with a higher risk of electrolyte abnormalities compared to HCTZ. 
  3. Recent studies for cardiovascular outcomes show that chlorthalidone is not better than HCTZ in preventing CV outcomes, but increases risk for hypokalemia, need for monitoring and even potassium supplementation. 


Direct download: 166-thiazide-throwdown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we discuss the concerns of QTc prolongation, which can cause a fatal arrhythmia called torsades de pointes (TdP). We cover the difference between QT and QTc, how to interpret a QTc (and when it is inaccurate), common medications that prolong QTc, and how pharmacists can evaluate the risk of QTc/TdP in patients who are receiving QTc-prolonging therapies.

Key Concepts

  1. The QTc interval is the QT interval that has been “corrected” for heart rate. In nearly all cases, when describing a QT interval, it should be expressed as the QTc.
  2. Although a prolonged QTc is usually defined as a QTc exceeding 450-480 msec, the risk of torsades de pointes (TdP) begins to become concerning when the QTc is more than 500 msec, 15-20% longer than baseline, or if the QTc has increased by more than 60 msec.
  3. Vaughan-Williams Class III antiarrhythmics are most implicated in QTc prolongation and TdP risk. These therapies include sotalol, dofetilide, and dronedarone. Although amiodarone is a class III antiarrhythmic, its risk of TdP is quite low despite the fact that it often substantially prolongs the QTc.
  4. When pharmacists are assessing the risk of QTc prolongation and TdP, multiple factors (not just the QTc itself) should be considered. Risk scores, like the Tisdale Risk Score, as well as considering the risks/benefits of switching drug therapy, should be evaluated.


Direct download: 165-qtc.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we will discuss the most important updates from the American Diabetes Association’s 2023 Standards of Care in Diabetes.

Key Concepts

  1. The first-line therapy for type II diabetes is based on whether the primary goal of therapy is cardiorenal benefit (reduced risk of ASCVD, heart failure, or CKD) or glycemic and weight goals.
  2. For cardiorenal benefit, GLP1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors are heavily emphasized. For glycemic control and weight gain, GLP1 receptor agonists (or GLP1/GIP in the case of tirzepatide) have a very favorable effect on weight loss and glycemic control. While metformin is still mentioned, it is no longer the sole, first-line therapy for type II diabetes.
  3. For patients with diabetes and a high risk of ASCVD (20% or higher), high-intensity statins, ezetimibe, and/or PCSK9 inhibitors are recommended to achieve an LDL less than 70 mg/dL. In patients with a history of ASCVD events, these same therapies are used to achieve a recommended LDL goal of less than 55 mg/dL.
  4. Among selected patients with diabetes and CKD with albuminuria, finerenone (a new mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist) is recommended to improve renal and cardiovascular outcomes.
  5. A variety of different therapies are now recommended for neuropathic pain, including gabapentinoids, SNRIs, TCAs, and several antiseizure medications (lamotrigine, lacosamide, oxcarbazepine, and valproic acid).
  6. A wide variety of other new recommendations are discussed in the episode, including NASH/NAFLD, obesity and weight management, special populations, diabetes technology, and health behavior changes.


Direct download: 164-diabetes-2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we review clinical pearls and common pitfalls of immunosuppression regimens for organ transplantation with a particular focus on tacrolimus and mycophenolate.

Key Concepts

  1. Most recipients of an organ transplantation will be on a two or three drug regimen. The most common regimen is tacrolimus and mycophenolate with/without a corticosteroid.
  2. Tacrolimus is hepatically eliminated and susceptible to CYP3A4 and PGP drug interactions. Particularly at higher drug concentrations, it is associated with nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity (among several other adverse effects).
  3. Mycophenolate is unstable in the acidic environment of the stomach. The two formulations on the market are CellCept (which uses a prodrug, mycophenolate mofetil, that is converted in the liver to an active compound) and Myfortic (an enteric-coated formulation of mycophenolic acid, which releases after exiting the stomach).
  4. The intensity of an immunosuppression regimen is determined by numerous factors, including the type of organ, how long ago the organ was transplanted, if acute rejection has occurred in the past, patient-specific risk factors, and more.

Additional Resources

  1. Register to be a donor at Donate Life America (https://donatelife.net) or at the HRSA OrganDonor.gov site (https://www.organdonor.gov)
  2. Learn more about stem cell donation and transplant at https://bethematch.org
Direct download: 163-transplant-tango.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this first ever CE episode, we discuss the A-Zs of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). In specific, our learning objective for the CE are:

  1. Describe commonly available types of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in the US market and the features and capabilities of these devices.

  2. Summarize the evidence and guideline recommendations for use of CGMs in the management of diabetes.

  3. Identify the role of the pharmacist in the selection of CGMs and provision of education to patients and providers.

  4. Interpret the ambulatory glucose profile (CGM data output) and recommend changes in antihyperglycemic regimen for a patient.

ACPE-Accredited Pharmacist CE (1.0 hrs)

To obtain CE credit for a $5 fee, visit the following link: https://rfums.wufoo.com/forms/z1qzh5vf0ggr832/. Once payment is successful, you will be redirected to our CE partner (CE Impact) to complete an evaluation and to earn 1.0 hour of CE credit. CE is available for 12 months after episode publication.

Key Concepts

  1. There are two main types of stand-alone personal CGMs available in the US market – real-time (rtCGM) and intermittently scanning (isCGM). [1] These CGMs vary in their features such as sensor wear time, sensor warm up time, sensor application site, reader availability, approved age for use, fingerstick calibration, non-adjunctive FDA labeling, interconnectability with other technology such as insulin pumps, and drug interactions – these variabilities can be used in decision-making when selecting an appropriate CGM for a patient. [2-7]
  2. Based on the evidence for use, both types of CGMs (real-time and intermittently scanning) are recommended in patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who are on multiple-daily insulin or continuous insulin infusion (pump), patients with Type 2 diabetes on basal insulin therapy, and as adjunct use in patients with diabetes who are pregnant. The strength of recommendations in general is stronger for real-time CGMs than for intermittently scanning CGMs. [1,11] These recommendations are supported by the evidence that CGMs can help improve glucose control, reduce risk of hypoglycemia, diabetes-related hospitalizations, and patient/caregiver satisfaction.
  3. Pharmacists play an integral role in education, on-going support, data interpretation, and resulting disease management in patients who qualify for CGM use and providers who care for patients with diabetes. [14]
  4. The ambulatory glucose profile is a standardized data output that informs understanding of glucose trends. [15] The recommended goal for most patients is to maintain a glucose range between 70-180 mg/dL with at least 70% of time spent in this range with variability coefficient of no more than 36%. [1,11,15]

Supplemental Content

Comparison of rtCGM and isCGM devices

"Mary's" Example AGP Report (adapted from Battelino et al.)


  1. ElSayed NA, Aleppo G, Aroda VR, et al. American Diabetes Association. Chapter 7. Diabetes technology: Standards of medical care in diabetes - 2023. Diabetes Care. 2023;46(suppl 1):S111-S127.
  2. Dexcom G6 User Guide. Dexcom, Inc. 2020. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/dexcompdf/G6-CGM-Users-Guide.pdf.
  3. Dexcom G7 User Guide. Dexcom, Inc. 2022. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://dexcompdf.s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/en-us/G7-CGM-Users-Guide.pdf#page=12
  4. Guardian Connect System User Guide. Medtronic MiniMed. 2020. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/sites/default/files/library/download-library/user-guides/Guardian-Connect-System-User-Guide.pdf.
  5. Eversense E3 User Guide. Sensionics, Inc. 2022. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://www.eversensediabetes.com/wp-content/uploads/LBL-4002-01-001-Rev-F_Eversense-E3-User-Guide_mgdL_R1_web.pdf
  6. FreeStyle Libre 3 User’s Manual. Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. 2022. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://freestyleserver.com/Payloads/IFU/2022/q2/ART44140-002_rev-A.pdf
  7. FreeStyle Libre 2 User’s Manual. Abbott Diabetes Care Inc. 2020. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://freestyleserver.com/Payloads/IFU/2020/q2/ART40703-001_rev-D-Web.pdf.
  8. Products. American Diabetes Association. Accessed February 20, 2023. https://consumerguide.diabetes.org/
  9. Wood A, O'Neal D, Furler J, Ekinci EI. Continuous glucose monitoring: a review of the evidence, opportunities for future use and ongoing challenges. Intern Med J. 2018 May;48(5):499-508.
  10. Edelman SV, Argento NB, Petty SJ, Hirsch IB. Clinical implications of real-time and intermittently scanned continuous glucose monitoring. Diabetes Care. 2018;41:2265-2274.
  11. Fonseca VA, Grunberger G, Anhalt H, et al. Continuous glucose monitoring: A consensus conference of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology. Endocr Pract. 2016;22(8):1008-21.
  12. Reiterer F, Polterauer P, Schoemaker M, Schmelzeisen-Redecker G, Freckmann G, Heinemann L, Del Re L. Significance and Reliability of MARD for the Accuracy of CGM Systems. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2017 Jan;11(1):59-67. doi: 10.1177/1932296816662047. Epub 2016 Sep 25. PMID: 27566735; PMCID: PMC5375072.
  13. Food and Drug Administration. Premarket Notification 510(k). 2022. Accessed February 25, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/premarket-submissions-selecting-and-preparing-correct-submission/premarket-notification-510k.
  14. Isaacs, Diana. The pharmacist’s role in continuous glucose monitoring. Pharmacy Today. 2020;26:37-54.
  15. Battelino T, Danne T, Bergenstal RM, et al. Clinical Targets for Continuous Glucose Monitoring Data Interpretation: Recommendations from the International Consensus on Time in Range. Diabetes Care. 2019;42(8):1593-1603.
Direct download: 163-cgm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EDT

In this episode, we interview Dr. Shannon Rotolo and Dr. Alex Berce regarding Illinois and Wisconsin drug repository programs – these are programs that allow certain medications to be donated to participating sites and then redistributed to patients at a very low dispensing cost.

Key Concepts

  1. Drug repository programs allow participating sites to accept certain donated medications and redistribute these medications to needy patients at a very low dispensing cost.
  2. Drug repository programs are regulated by state law and the specifics of the process do vary by state. In Illinois and Wisconsin, donated medications must be in their original containers with tamper-evident packaging, cannot be controlled substances, and must have a 90-day expiration window at the time of donation.
  3. Pharmacists can play an important role in advocating for patients and the profession of pharmacy. The involvement of pharmacists in legislation is critical to make sure that new laws are actually “functional” and can achieve their intended purpose.


For additional information about our guests, contact Dr. Shannon Rotolo at Shannon.Rotolo@uchospitals.edu or Dr. Alex Berce at alex@goodvaluerx.com.

Direct download: 161-drug-repositories.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we discuss the evidence, safety, and place in therapy of Auvelity® (dextromethorphan-bupropion), a newly approved antidepressant with a unique mechanism of action and interesting pharmacokinetic considerations.

Key Concepts

  1. Auvelity® (bupropion-dextromethorphan) was FDA approved in 2022 for major depressive disorder (MDD). The bupropion component inhibits CYP2D6 metabolism and increases serum concentrations of dextromethorphan. The proposed mechanism of benefit in MDD is via dextromethorphan (as an NMDA antagonist) and possibly with bupropion (as a dopamine/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor).
  2. Although the bupropion component in Auvelity® is being used for its drug interaction, the dose is a therapeutic dose and carries several warnings and precautions, including the risk of seizure and hypertension.
  3. In short (6-week) clinical trials, Auvelity® improved depression symptoms quickly (within 1-2 weeks), which is faster than many other antidepressants. Auvelity® is associated with dizziness, anxiety, hyperhidrosis, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and dry mouth.
  4. As a CYP2D6 inhibitor, the bupropion component of Auvelity® will cause drug interactions with many other medications, including some antidepressants, antipsychotics, and opioid analgesics (among others).


  • Iosifescu DV, Jones A, O'Gorman C, et al. Efficacy and Safety of AXS-05 (Dextromethorphan-Bupropion) in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A Phase 3 Randomized Clinical Trial (GEMINI). J Clin Psychiatry. 2022;83(4):21m14345. Published 2022 May 30. doi:10.4088/JCP.21m14345
  • Tabuteau H, Jones A, Anderson A, Jacobson M, Iosifescu DV. Effect of AXS-05 (Dextromethorphan-Bupropion) in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2022;179(7):490-499. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.21080800
  • Kotlyar M, Brauer LH, Tracy TS, et al. Inhibition of CYP2D6 activity by bupropion. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005;25(3):226-229. doi:10.1097/01.jcp.0000162805.46453.e3
Direct download: 160-auvelity.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT

In this episode, we highlight important changes to the 2023 GOLD Guidelines for COPD. In particular, we discuss a revision to the GOLD group classification system and the preferred initial therapies in patients with COPD.

Key Concepts

  1. The newest GOLD COPD guidelines now recognize three GOLD groups – “A”, “B”, and “E”. Group “E” (formerly groups C and D) are patients with frequent exacerbations (defined as 2 or more in the past 12 months or 1 exacerbation requiring hospitalization).
  2. For group “E” patients, the preferred initial inhaler regimen is a LABA+LAMA. Triple therapy (LABA+LAMA+ICS) can be considered if blood eosinophils are elevated.
  3. “Triple therapy” (LABA+LAMA+ICS) has gained traction based on the IMPACT and ETHOS trials – this regimen reduced exacerbations and mortality compared to LABA+LAMA and LABA+ICS.
  4. With an exploding market of new COPD inhalers, the role of the pharmacist is even more critical to help identify affordable medications and provide patient education for proper inhaler technique.


  • Global Strategy for Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of COPD: 2023 Report. Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD). https://goldcopd.org/2023-gold-report-2/
  • IMPACT study: Lipson DA, Barnhart F, Brealey N, et al. Once-Daily Single-Inhaler Triple versus Dual Therapy in Patients with COPD. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(18):1671-1680. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1713901
  • ETHOS study: Rabe KF, Martinez FJ, Ferguson GT, et al. Triple Inhaled Therapy at Two Glucocorticoid Doses in Moderate-to-Very-Severe COPD. N Engl J Med. 2020;383(1):35-48. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1916046
Direct download: 159-gold-2023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EDT