Trends Forum 2024: Beyond the Pill Recap

We recently held our annual Trends Forum at the Montour Heights Country Club. Attendees heard from Dinsmore, Highmark, Johnson & Johnson, and TARA Mind. They discussed the evolving landscape within the pharmacy sector, encompassing notable advancements in gene and cell therapy and emerging trends in psychedelics, as well as the industry’s explosive costs. The implications of the most recent legislative actions on health plans were also deliberated.

Dr. Denise De Wiest, Johnson & Johnson

Dr. Denise De Wiest delivered an insightful overview of gene and cell therapy, leading into a discussion on chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T), her current focus. CAR-T, primarily employed in cancer treatment, shows promise for addressing other diseases too. The process involves extracting white blood cells from the patient, modifying T-cells to target the specific disease, resulting in a one-time treatment. However, its production is time-consuming, with few treatment centers nationwide, necessitating significant patient travel. Currently, CAR-T is typically reserved for patients who have exhausted multiple other treatments, yet it’s most effective in early-stage cancer. Despite potential side effects, a 30-day residency period post-treatment allows for manageable intervention.

Brian Dolan & Dr. Richard Nockowitz, TARA Mind

TARA Mind offers Ketamine Assisted Therapy (KAT) to individuals grappling with treatment-resistant depression. KAT entails administering IV Ketamine treatment (approximately 0.5 mg) over 3-6 weeks, alongside regular therapy sessions. Success rates are impressive, with over 85% of individuals benefiting from it. Treatment-resistant depression encompasses those who have tried various therapies without relief, even experiencing relapses after an initial positive response. Notably, KAT surpasses shock therapy, the conventional depression treatment. Eligibility for KAT entails completing an AI diagnostic quiz, enhancing diagnostic accuracy and identifying additional health conditions. TARA Mind is meticulously evaluating KAT procedures to construct a database for tailoring personalized treatment plans, which will integrate with their AI platform. Unfortunately, this treatment is presently not covered by insurance.

Dr. Sarah Marche, Highmark

Dr. Marche’s presentation delved into the intersection of pharmacy and business, particularly focusing on investing in specialty treatments, highlighting innovative approaches to pharmaceutical investment, emphasizing patient welfare and cost-effectiveness.

Bryan Murphy, Dinsmore

Bryan Murphy’s comprehensive legal perspective covered diverse topics including the Cures Act, the Priority Review Voucher program, tax-exempt rules, and employer liability, fueled by uncertainties brought about by liability cases.

 Moreover, Mr. Murphy emphasized the increasing complexity of legal practices in healthcare, underscoring the need for HR professionals to stay abreast of evolving regulations. Specialty drugs are here to stay. He pointed out the gap in HR knowledge, urging collaboration with legal consultants to make informed decisions. This underscores the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation for companies to navigate legal intricacies effectively.

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