Weekend ICYMI: April 22 to April 26


In case you missed it, this week we had news about bird flu, remote continuous glucose monitoring, new atrial fibrillation care initiatives, and more.

Bird Flu Samples Found in Dairy Products Across the US

After a dairy farmer contracted the H5N1 bird flu in late March, researchers tracking the spread of the virus found viral RNA samples in pasteurized milk products on grocery store shelves. While health officials emphasize that the H5N1 virus found in milk cannot currently transmit to humans, its presence in pasteurized products is a cause for concern. This discovery, along with the virus' apparent ability to survive pasteurization, raises worries about potential mutation and future human risk.

Person shopping for milk at grocery store / Sergey Ryzhov - stock.adobe.com

Person shopping for milk at grocery store / Sergey Ryzhov - stock.adobe.com

Like the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when testing capabilities were severely lacking, it is hard for farmers and health officials to choose which cows to test. Despite this roadblock, the CDC says it will still begin to ramp up testing—as well as exploring wastewater testing near dairy farms—to contain the spread as best as possible.

American Heart Association Launches Initiative to Include Pharmacists in Atrial Fibrillation Care

The American Heart Association has announced the launch of a new initiative to educate and engage with pharmacists, “an underrepresented voice” in atrial fibrillation (AFib) treatment. The pharmacist collaboration is the latest phase in the American Heart Association’s "Four F’s of Atrial Fibrillation" initiative, which address patient health concerns that interfere with guideline-directed anticoagulant therapy: fear of falling, fear of bleeding, forgetfulness, and frailty.

As part of the initiative, the American Heart Association will hold a roundtable event with pharmacists to identify gaps and opportunities related to AFib treatment. Resources and insights from the event will be shared nationwide.

Community Pharmacists Could Help Patients Control Diabetes Through Remote CGM Monitoring

A remote continuous glucose monitor (CGM) monitoring service that’s led by community pharmacists may help improve glycemic metrics for patients with diabetes, according to research published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. The authors said the program could improve diabetes control and reduce long-term diabetes-related health complications.

Patients enrolled in community pharmacist-led remote CGM monitoring services experienced significant enhancements in glycemic control metrics, including reduced time above range, increased time in range, and improved average glucose levels, showcasing the effectiveness of pharmacist-led interventions.

Exploring Challenges, Opportunities for Community Pharmacists in Tobacco Cessation

Although community pharmacists are well positioned to help patients stop smoking through tobacco cessation programs, practical challenges complicate their integration.

By addressing the barriers associated with the integration of tobacco cessation programs, such as routine implementation and reimbursement hurdles, community pharmacists can “significantly impact public health by increasing access to effective cessation support,” wrote investigators. The need to do so remains ever-present, especially as the tobacco crisis evolves and further complicates cessation initiatives.

FDA Approves Pfizer’s Gene Therapy for Hemophilia B

The FDA has approved fidanacogene elaparvovec-dzkt (Beqvez) for the treatment of moderate to severe hemophilia B in adult patients who currently use factor IX (FIX) prophylaxis therapy, or have current or historical life-threatening hemorrhage, or have repeated, serious spontaneous bleeding episodes, and do not have neutralizing antibodies to adeno-associated virus serotype Rh74var (AAVRh74var) capsid, Pfizer announced in a release.

Fidanacogene elaparvovec-dzkt is an adeno-associated virus-based gene therapy that imparts a functional copy of the FIX gene into transduced cells. Compared to the current standard of care, which requires intravenous infusions of FIX to be administered multiple times a week or month, fidanacogene elaparvovec-dzkt is a 1-time treatment that allows patients with hemophilia B to produce FIX themselves.

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