On May 11, St. Louis College of Pharmacy capped off the end of the 2018-19 academic year by celebrating its 151st Commencement. During this year’s ceremony, 253 students were awarded a Doctor of Pharmacy, and 166 students were awarded a Bachelor of Science. These talented and dedicated individuals represent the future of the pharmacy profession, and we were thrilled to recognize their achievements.
With Commencement now behind us, we are reflecting on an exciting year that was highlighted by growth, leadership and innovation. As the College continues to work toward its vision to be a globally prominent leader in pharmacy and health care education, the 2018-19 academic year saw the establishment of four new health-care focused bachelor’s degrees, which will be implemented this fall as standalone programs.
Tailored to the demands of the market and the needs of students, the following new programs are specifically designed to provide future students with options and the ability to explore their passions within the context of health care:
In addition to the new programs being offered, the College is renaming its existing undergraduate degrees and offering them as a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a choice of emphasis in Health Sciences or Health Humanities. The new name is designed to better represent the coursework contained in the degree program. Meanwhile, the curriculum for our Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program will remain unchanged, and students will continue to have the opportunity to integrate a bachelor’s degree with a Pharm.D. or apply to the Pharm.D. program after completing their prerequisites.
Through strategic partnerships, we are also creating opportunities for students at the College to pursue graduate education:
This expansion of our academic offerings comes as the College continues to see extensive growth in its research initiatives. Under the direction of Thomas Burris, Ph.D., FAAAS, FAHA, alumni endowed professor of pharmacology and vice president for research, the College’s Center for Clinical Pharmacology is humming with activity funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
In recent months, the center has flourished with the addition of seven new faculty and more than 25 postdoctoral research associates, graduate and undergraduate researchers and technical staff members now working in its labs. Burris and the center’s team of researchers are focused on using chemical biology approaches to examine the physiological roles of nuclear hormone receptors and developing drugs targeting them for the treatment of conditions including chronic pain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
The center unites pharmacists, physicians and researchers who hold academic appointments at both the College and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and the many innovative research efforts currently underway continue to pave the way for the center to become a national research leader in pain management and personalized approaches to medication therapy.
We are also thrilled to note that the 2018-19 academic year was highlighted by a wide range of recognition for members of the College community.
This is truly an exciting time at St. Louis College of Pharmacy! I invite you to visit campus soon for a first-hand look at the many wonderful things underway as the College continues its work to prepare students for expert practice and leadership in pharmacy and health care education, interprofessional patient-centered care and collaborative research.
The Membership Committee is pleased to share some of the results from the 2019 MSHP Annual Survey. This year 52 members responded to the survey.
Reasons for Being Involved
Networking was again selected by respondents as the primary reason for involvement in MSHP.
Top three reasons for being involved in MSHP:
2. Professional Development
3. Affiliate chapter activities and Continuing Education
MSHP meetings and CE, advocacy, and leadership opportunities were also frequently ranked by responders as top three membership benefits.
Overall, responders felt that MSHP is doing a good job fulfilling most organization activities.
Most important MSHP activities per responders:
1. Advocating for me and the profession of pharmacy at the state level
2. Delivering high quality education
3. Promoting the health-system pharmacy to the general public
4. Communicating key health-system pharmacy issues to members
MSHP activities which the organization is best fulfilling:
1. Providing opportunities of organizational involvement
2. Producing a high quality newsletter
3. Providing leadership opportunities
4. Delivering high quality education
Top Priorities for Coming Year:
1. Legislative Issues
3. Membership Involvement
Top Areas for Improvement:
1. Offer more local/regional programming
2. Offer more social functions and networking opportunities
3. Increase communication and programming around legislative issues
The majority of members indicated that they feel they receive a good value for their membership dues.
We want to thank all the members that took the time to fill out the survey. These results will be used during the next strategic planning meeting to guide organization initiatives.
We are excited about all the changes that have been happening within MSHP over the past year and look forward to continuing to improve your membership experience!
Under the leadership of President Tony Huke, MSHP experienced another successful year! The Board of Directors, which also included President-elect Alex Oschman, past-President Jeremy Hampton, secretary Elaine Ogden, and treasurer Davina Dell-Steinbeck, began the year by developing a strategic plan and worked diligently throughout the year to carry it out. Key accomplishments included:
The various MSHP committees and the R&E Foundation were also hard at work throughout the year. Below are highlights of their accomplishments:
2018-2019 Chair: Ashley Evans
Each year, the MSHP Membership Committee is charged with assessing and addressing the needs of current and prospective members. The 2018-2019 committee utilized two cycles of Membership Surveys to assist in these efforts. A focus of the committee was increasing engagement of student and new practitioner members. Multiple initiatives including membership drives with the area Student Societies of Health-System Pharmacy, new graduate membership discounts, and conversion of the Resident Workgroup to a New Practitioner Workgroup helped facilitate growth in these areas. Finally, the committee helped members celebrate the organization’s new logo by providing branded tumblers for all members attending the MSHP Spring Meeting. There are several initiatives in progress that the 2019-2020 MSHP Membership Committee will continue to move forward to help meet the needs of all members!
Public Policy Committee
2018-2019 Chair: Sarah Cox
This year, MSHP Public Policy Committee tackled several policy issues. The major tasks that were tackled are outlined below:
It has been a pleasure to serve our MSHP membership and the Public Policy Committee is looking forward to another great year for 2019-2020.
2018-2019 Chair: Elaine Ogden
The Communications Committee continued to work on streamlining the format of the eBlast as well as reviewing content that was applicable for the entire MSHP membership. The committee also assisted with the rebranding efforts related to the new MSHP logo. MSHP’s social media presence was strengthened by adding an Instagram page as well as increasing content on Facebook. The committee hopes to expand further with a LinkedIn account next year. Another focus of the committee was utilizing new ways to highlight the accomplishments of MSHP’s members through eBlasts as well as social media. If you have comments or suggestions to help the committee improve its efforts in the coming year, please feel free to reach out – we would love to hear them!
2018-2019 Chair: Sarah Cook
The Newsletter Committee is very appreciative of all of the members, students, and residents that helped to make the past year’s newsletter content so enriching. In addition to regularly scheduled articles and updates, the six 2018-2019 newsletter issues included:
A well as coordinating and publishing bi-monthly issues of the MSHP Newsletter, the committee focused largely on increasing accessibility to CE articles by expanding the window for CE credit for each article from 2 months to 6 months and working with the Communications Committee and Website Committee to enhance visibility and access to CE articles.
The Newsletter Committee would like to thank all who have contributed over the past year and looks forward to providing more high-quality content in the future!
Education and Programming Committee
2018-2019 Chair: Elizabeth Englin
This year the Education & Programming Committee was able to support and provide educational opportunities to our members through various meetings. In September 2018, MSHP supported the Missouri Pharmacy Association (MPA) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Branson, Missouri and MSHP members had the opportunity to present their novel practices at the Innovative Practices Roundtable Session. Also in the fall, Education & Programming Committee members began to plan the spring annual meeting in collaboration with Illinois Council for Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP). In March, MSHP members were able to attend the 2019 Annual Conference (MSHP/ICHP) in Collinsville, Illinois which was a great success! The meeting was filled with content on the forefront of clinical pharmacy practice, networking and celebrating the achievements of MSHP members, leaders and volunteers.
2018-2019 Chair: Kat Burnett
The website committee was busy throughout the year! Major projects for the MSHP website that were undertaken included:
Research and Education Foundation
2018-2019 Chair: Jackie Harris
The MSHP R&E Foundation’s activities for the past year included:
Author: Ivan Porto, 2020 PharmD CandidateMentor: Paul Juang, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP, FASHP, FCCM; Professor, Department of Pharmacy PracticeSt. Louis College of Pharmacy
The Surviving Sepsis Campaign (SSG) 2016 makes several recommendations about fluid resuscitation. The current SSG recommendations state that at least 30 mL/kg of IV crystalloid should be given to patients within the first 3 hours of admission, with a target MAP of 65 mmHg.1 Reassessment of these patients should include the evaluation of several hemodynamic parameters, including heart rate, blood pressure or the use of other dynamic parameters.2 After initial resuscitation, SSG recommends that crystalloids should be used for subsequent intravascular volume replacement1 (strong recommendation) and that albumin should be added when patients require large amounts of crystalloids (weak recommendation).
However, one area that lacks a definitive recommendation is which crystalloids to use in different situations. The current SSG is unable to recommend one crystalloid solution over another because no direct comparisons have been made between isotonic saline and balanced salt solution in patients with sepsis.1 Furthermore, the SSG fails to address which fluids to use in non-septic critically ill patients.
When providing IV fluid resuscitation for critically ill patients, the primary goal is for fluids to be given in a fashion that maximizes positive healthcare outcomes. Recent trials have provided insight into the advantages and disadvantages of several IV fluids, which can help direct deciding which fluid to use in patients being held in an ICU.
Normal Saline vs. Balanced Crystalloids
Balanced Crystalloids versus Saline in Critically Ill Adults (SMART) – This trial compared normal saline and balanced crystalloids for use in the fluid resuscitation of critically ill patients.
* Decision to use lactated ringer’s vs Plasma-Lyte depended on the preference of the treating physician
Balanced Crystalloids versus Saline in Noncritically Ill Adults (SALT-ED) – This trial compared normal saline and balanced crystalloids for use in the fluid resuscitation of non-critically ill patients.
Summary of Results
Take home points:
Crystalloids vs Colloids
A Comparison of Albumin and Saline for Fluid Resuscitation in the Intensive Care Unit (SAFE) – This trial compared 4% albumin and normal saline for use in the fluid resuscitation of critically ill patients.
Albumin Replacement in Patients with Severe Sepsis or Septic Shock (ALBIOS) – This trial compared 20% albumin combined with crystalloids to crystalloids alone for use in the fluid resuscitation of patients with sepsis.
Crystalloids vs. colloids for fluid resuscitation in the Intensive Care Unit: A systematic review and meta-analysis – A systematic review of 55 articles, published in 2019, examining the comparison between crystalloids and colloids for the fluid resuscitation of ICU patients.
Author: Shannon Mensing, 2019 PharmD CandidateSt. Louis College of Pharmacy
Mentor: Jennifer Rushing, PharmDClinical Pharmacist, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – St. Charles
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 26 million Americans suffer from asthma, accounting for approximately 8% of children and 8% of adults. Within this population, 5 to 10% of patients have severe asthma that does not respond to conventional therapy with a short-acting beta-agonist and inhaled corticosteroids. Patients with refractory asthma experience an increased rate of exacerbations, hospital visits, and medical costs.1 In recent years, monoclonal antibodies have been approved in addition to the standards of care in asthma to treat these patients with type 2 inflammation. Recently, dupilumab (Dupixent) was approved by the FDA to treat for add-on maintenance treatment of patients 12 years or older with moderate to severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype or with oral corticosteroid-dependent asthma.3
Dupilumab (Dupixent), manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi, was originally approved in March of 2017 with an FDA approval to treat adults with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis that is not adequately controlled with topical therapy. It was hypothesized that dupilumab may have a beneficial and therapeutic value in the treatment of asthma after it was found to treat other conditions that are driven by type 2 inflammation, including the aforementioned atopic dermatitis and chronic sinusitis, both of which are commonly found in patients with asthma. After further investigation, it confirmed that dupilumab had a beneficial effect in asthma as well. Currently there are other monoclonal antibodies on the market used to treat asthma that target the IL-5 cytokine pathway. Dupilumab has a different mechanism of action that targets a separate pathway of inflammation by blocking IL-4 and IL-13 pathways, inhibiting type 2 inflammation.2
Three major clinical trials were published that contributed to approval of dupilumab in the treatment of asthma. All were double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. In a phase 2b dosing trial published in 2016, adult patients with uncontrolled persistent asthma on guideline directed medical therapy were assigned to treatment with dupilumab or placebo. The primary endpoint of the trial was change from baseline at week 12 in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1 in L) in patients with baseline blood eosinophil counts of at least 300 eosinophils per microliter. Dupilumab was found to have the greatest effect in the population with a baseline eosinophil count greater than 300. However, there was a benefit seen in the general population in both improved FEV1 and decreased rates of exacerbations. Both treatment groups that received the 200 and 300 mg doses had a mean improvement of approximately 0.40 L in FEV1 at 12 weeks when compared to placebo. Additionally, patients treated with dupilumab also saw a reduction of up to 70% in the rates of annual severe exacerbations.5
Another trial looked at patients 12 years of age or older with moderate to severe asthma treated with inhaled corticosteroid and long-acting beta-agonist combination products with moderate to severe uncontrolled asthma. Patients again were assigned to treatment groups with either 200 or 300 mg of dupilumab or matching placebos. Treatment with dupilumab when compared to placebo showed a significant reduction in annualized rates of severe asthma exacerbations with the most benefit in patients with elevated baseline eosinophil counts. Patients in the 200 mg treatment group had an annualized asthma exacerbation rate of 0.46, compared to 0.87 in the placebo group. It also resulted in improved lung function and asthma control, measured by FEV1. At 12 weeks of treatment, the treatment group that received the lower dose of dupilumab experienced a 0.32 L increase in FEV1 with similar effects noted with the 300 mg dose as well. 4
A third trial used to garner approval for dupilumab treatment in asthma looked at asthmatic patients dependent on oral glucocorticoids at the time of randomization. The trial’s primary outcome analyzed the percentage of glucocorticoid reduction at week 24 of therapy compared to placebo. Patients in the population treated with dupilumab saw a reduction in use of oral glucocorticoids, in addition to an improvement in FEV1 and a reduction in rates of exacerbations. The treatment group saw a percentage decrease in glucocorticoid use of approximately 70% with a 0.22 L increase in FEV1. Treatment with dupilumab also resulted in a 59% lower rate of severe exacerbations when compared with placebo.6
Each trial showed a benefit with the use of dupilumab in the treatment of asthma. Both initial trials reduced the annual rate of asthma exacerbations per year in the trial population.4,5 Additionally, the oral glucocorticoid dependent group saw a mean reduction of approximately 70% in the dose of oral steroids they were receiving.6 Dupilumab was shown to have greatest effects in the population subgroup that had an eosinophil count ≥ 300.4,5Among these three trials, similar adverse reactions were observed. Injection site reactions and a transient rise in eosinophils were the two most common reactions associated with treatment.4-6
Dupilumab dosing is determined based on the severity of disease. Patients with moderate-to-severe asthma are initially treated with a 400 or 600 mg loading dose divided into 2 equal subcutaneous injections via a prefilled syringe, followed by a maintenance dose of 200 mg or 300 mg every 2 weeks, respectively. Patients with oral glucocorticoid dependent disease are treated with a 600 mg loading dose divided into two equal subcutaneous injections, followed by 300 mg given every 2 weeks. Patients may self-administer this medication at home following training by a healthcare provider. When injecting the medications, patient should be instructed to keep the syringe capped and allow the solution to reach room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes prior to use.3
As with many other biologic agents, cost of the medication may be a limiting factor in the utilization. Estimated average wholesale price for the 200 mg pre-filled syringe is around $1,589.8 However, dupilumab has shown promising results in the treatment of asthma, especially those with elevated eosinophil counts. It can be considered in patients after maximum use of conventional therapy with inhalers and may provide relief in patients that have exhausted other options.
Authors: Elizabeth Pham, 2019 PharmD CandidateAlison Stevens PharmD, BCPS; Assistant Director of Health System and Acute Care, Office of Experiential Education/Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy PracticeSt. Louis College of Pharmacy
Transitions of care (TOC) is a process designed to maintain the safety and care of patients when transferring between different health care settings or different health care professionals within the same setting. However, transitioning patients can be complex, resulting in medication errors. In the United States, medication errors and adverse drug events contribute to almost 700,000 emergency department visits and over 100,000 hospitalizations.Factors often attributed to causing adverse drug events include breakdowns in communication, accountability, incomplete medication reconciliation and insufficient patient and caregiver education.1 All of these elements contribute to hospital readmissions, stressing the importance of an effective TOC process. Pharmacists can play a fundamental role in this process by providing interventions such as medication reconciliation, patient counseling and follow-up telephone calls. In fact, various institutions that have piloted the use of pharmacists on their TOC team found improvement in outcomes such as a decrease in the number of return emergency department visits and a reduction in medication discrepancies.2-4
Creating a Transitions of Care Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience
Pharmacists clearly have a role in the TOC process that continues to expand; therefore, pharmacy schools should start exposing their students to care transitions as a pharmacy practice experience. Though the data on implementing an introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) focused on TOC is lacking, certain institutions have started to pilot advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPE) concentrated on TOC with positive results. Pharmacy students that participated in these TOC APPEs not only received hands on patient care experience, but also greatly impacted their sites. One institution increased the number of patients assessed by their TOC team from 10 patients to approximately 15 to 20 patients per day with student integration.5
At the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, TOC is included in the Pre-APPE curriculum as an IPPE course. The course spans both fall and spring semesters of the third professional year. As part of the course, student pharmacists are made aware of the negative health outcomes of an ineffective TOC process and have an opportunity to impact the TOC process in various settings. Additionally, the students have the chance to act as part of the health care team and interact with other health care professionals to emphasize the importance of collaboration at crucial transitions.
The Student Experience
The majority of the course is spent completing 20 experiential hours in either ambulatory care, long-term care, community or health systems. To understand what TOC looked like in all four health care settings, a student from each setting was interviewed to talk about their experience.
In ambulatory care, patients transition from the inpatient setting to the outpatient setting. Rachel Marchi, a student assigned to the ambulatory care setting, utilized telepharmacy to complete her TOC activities. When she was able to reach the patients, she asked questions regarding their current medications and identified any barriers to adherence. Additionally, each patient interaction lasted approximately 10 to 15 minutes. When talking about her overall experience she stated that, “I feel like we were able to optimize the care of each patient by making their appointment visit more focused on what they wanted to come in for. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience and I feel like it helped prepare me for my future APPE rotations.”
Likewise, in long-term care, patients mainly transition out of the hospital and into a long-term care facility. Bradley Collins, a student that completed his TOC IPPE rotation in long-term care, spent most of his time on the computer analyzing the medication lists for each patient transferred to the nursing facility. According to Bradley, it took about two hours to complete a full assessment for each patient. When talking about his experience, Bradley said that “having the opportunity to see what TOC looks like in a long-term care setting was really awesome, since this is not something we get a lot of exposure to in school.”
In the community setting, patients transition from the inpatient environment and back into the community, or between different pharmacies. Performing TOC activities in the community setting can be challenging due to communication barriers between the pharmacist and hospital and lack of integration between the computer systems from either setting. Moreover, staffing issues and the amount of time needed to complete a TOC intervention may not always be feasible. Meghin Moynihan, who completed her TOC IPPE rotation in the community setting, was only able to transfer prescriptions and perform patient adherence calls. When talking about her overall experience Meghin said she “really enjoyed her time at the pharmacy” but felt that her TOC experience was very limited.
On the other hand, in the health system setting, patients transition from the outpatient environment to an inpatient setting, and then back to the community. Ivan Porto, a student that completed his TOC IPPE in a hospital, states, “I did a lot of medication reconciliation for patients that were admitted to the service and medication education for patients that were going to be discharged from the hospital.” When talking about his overall experience Ivan claims, “My preceptor gave me a lot of opportunities to really see what TOC looks like in a health systems setting, so I really enjoyed my experience.”
The Preceptor Perspective
In addition to the students’ experience, preceptors from each setting were interviewed to gain perspective on how they integrated the IPPE course into their respective practices. Dr. Justinne Guyton, who practices in ambulatory care at the St. Louis Department of Public Health, set up the rotation so students called patients scheduled to come for a follow-up visit after a recent hospitalization. Patients were picked for the students ahead of time by Dr. Guyton who determined which patients would fit the criteria for a TOC intervention. In contrast to Dr. Guyton’s ambulatory care site, Dr. Steven Hebel’s long-term care site at Corum Health Services, Inc. had students perform medication reconciliation using a standardized form. The form compared patient medication lists from different settings (home, doctor’s office and hospital discharge) and different computer systems (the skilled nursing facility and Corum pharmacy). If the students identified any medication discrepancies, omissions, and/ or duplications they had to assess the patient’s risk for hospital readmission and adverse events. Another preceptor, Dr. Andrew Crannage, created an “IPPE collaboration” between the other three TOC preceptors at his health system site, Mercy Hospital St. Louis. He set the rotation up as a shared experience where the students would spend time with each preceptor performing a specific TOC task each day they were scheduled. Tasks included an orientation day, discharge education day, home medication reconciliation day, and a day where students rounded with a pharmacist and health care team. Finally, Dr. Joshua Boudeman, a pharmacist at the solid organ transplant and oncology specialty Walgreens at SSM St. Louis University Hospital, had his students perform medication reconciliation for the solid organ transplant and oncology patients preparing for discharge. Students built patient profiles for new oncology referrals that the pharmacy received, including their medication list. This list was either obtained from the patient or, preferably, provided by the prescriber's office and confirmed by the patient.
Having an effective TOC process in place is crucial to improving health outcomes for patients. Pharmacists are a vital component of the TOC team, and pharmacy schools should begin integrating care transitions into the experiential curriculum. Adoption of these experiences could lead to improved student education on TOC and positive TOC outcomes at rotation sites.
Authors: Elizabeth F. Englin, PharmD, BCPS and Heather Taylor, PharmD, BCPSClinical Assistant Professors - UMKC School of Pharmacy
Since the inception of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011, implementation and expansion of pharmacy – led transitions of care (TOC) services has become a focus for many institutions and clinics.1 The positive impact of pharmacy – led TOC services has been well documented in the literature through landmark trials such as the Medications at Transitions and Clinical Handoffs (MATCH) study and Project Re – Engineered Discharge (ProjectRED).2,3 Examples of pharmacy – led TOC services include medication history collection, medication reconciliation, comprehensive medication review, disease state education and medication counseling. One barrier to implementation of successful pharmacy – led TOC services is staffing resources.4 In order to implement or expand pharmacy – led TOC services, there is an increased need for additional pharmacy personnel or adjustment of current workflows.4 One method to overcome this barrier is the utilization of pharmacy residents and students to provide pharmacy – led TOC services.5 Involving pharmacy residents and students in performing TOC services provides valuable learning opportunities for them, while also benefitting the institution and improving patient care. Under appropriate supervision, pharmacy residents and students can help expand TOC services and reach more patients by serving as practice extenders at less or no additional cost to the institution.6 Data demonstrate student pharmacist involvement increased the number of patients receiving pharmacy-led TOC services from 10 patients per day to 15-20 patients per day.5
Incorporating pharmacy learners into TOC practices requires strong patient – centered care skills. Student pharmacists and pharmacy residents are equipped with the tools necessary to provide these services as they are instilled throughout their pharmacy school curricula. In 2014, the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP) established the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process (PPCP).7 The five step PPCP outlines a universal approach to patient - centered care with the underlying principles of collaboration, communication and documentation.7 The five steps of the PPCP are: collect, assess, plan, implement and follow – up including monitoring and evaluation.7 The ultimate goal of the PPCP is to provide a standardized approach to patient care for pharmacists to apply regardless of pharmacy setting or direct patient care activities.7 The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) incorporated the PPCP into the 2016 accreditation standards for pharmacy schools and colleges.8 Standard 10.8 states that schools and colleges of pharmacy should “prepare students to provide patient – centered collaborative care as described in the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process model endorsed by the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners.”8 As a result, student pharmacists and new pharmacy graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver patient – centered care according to the PPCP.
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) recently published a guidance document titled: Applying the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process to Care Transitions Services.9 In this document, they highlight the many components of TOC services and map them to the PPCP.9 Aligning TOC services with the PPCP allows institutions to adopt a standardized approach to the delivery of pharmacy-led TOC services. This also serves as a great method to train pharmacy residents and students to deliver TOC services. Medication management is a crucial component of TOC in which pharmacists in all practice settings play an important role. Studies show that the risk and incidence of medication errors increases during TOC and pharmacist involvement in the TOC process helps avoid preventable medication errors. Many services that pharmacists currently provide in a variety of practice settings are components of TOC. Recognizing these services as elements of TOC and involving pharmacy learners in advancing these services are great steps to providing optimal patient care. As pharmacists, we have an obligation to help safely and effectively manage our patient’s medications during TOC in every pharmacy practice setting, including hospital, community, ambulatory care, long-term care, along with many others. We have a great opportunity to collaborate with pharmacist colleagues in other practice settings to achieve this common goal.
If your institution has a residency program, a student intern program, or serves as a rotation site for Introductory/Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE/APPE) students, we encourage you to identify opportunities to involve them in developing or expanding pharmacy-led TOC services. Through delivering these services, pharmacy learners will increase their knowledge and skills by engaging in direct patient care while also adding a valuable contribution to the pharmacy department. Are you ready to reap the countless benefits of involving pharmacy learners in TOC today?
Authors: Emily Shor, PharmD and Alex Meyr, PharmDPGY1 Pharmacy Residents, SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – St. Louis
According to a report released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 100 million adults in the United States currently live with diabetes or prediabetes.1 Notably, various antidiabetic agents, such as insulin and secretagogues, are commonly associated with hypoglycemic events in the inpatient setting. Controlling both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia is important in hospitalized patients and is associated with increased cost, length of stay, morbidity, and mortality.2 Association of hypoglycemia with mortality has resulted in changes in clinical guidelines which make recommendations regarding glycemic control.3
The 2019 American Diabetes Association guidelines defines level 1 hypoglycemia as a blood glucose < 70 mg/dL but > 54 mg/dL. A blood glucose of < 70 mg/dl is considered clinically important regardless of severity of hypoglycemia symptoms. Level 2 hypoglycemia is defined as blood glucose < 54 mg/dL and is associated with neuroglycopenic symptoms and requires action to resolve the hypoglycemic event.3
A retrospective review of hypoglycemic events (blood glucose < 50 mg/dL) in diabetes patients at SSM St. Mary’s Hospital St. Louis between June 2014 and October 2015 assessed a total 539 hypoglycemic events to identify the incidence of preventable recurrent hypoglycemic events before and after a collaboration between pharmacy and certified diabetic educators. This review determined that 7.5% of events that were reported pre-collaboration were preventable while 3.7% of events that occurred post-collaboration were preventable. Although this finding was not a statistically significant difference, it represents a nearly 50% reduction in events. The collaboration facilitated communication with the treatment team and thus therapeutic modification in an effort to prevent inpatient hypoglycemia. Through this project, SSM St. Mary’s Hospital pharmacy team developed a monitoring spreadsheet that allows for pharmacists to monitor hypoglycemia events and track interventions.
Since its development, the hypoglycemia monitoring spreadsheet has proven to be a useful tool that helps pharmacists identify potential causes for hypoglycemia as well as opportunities to prevent subsequent hypoglycemic events. Pharmacists run a report of any hypoglycemic events, defined by a blood glucose less than 50 mg/dL, which have occurred at St. Mary’s Hospital each day and then document the details regarding that event. Through this monitoring form, pharmacists intervene by contacting and communicating with providers to adjust the insulin regimen as well as determine if an event is considered preventable. These preventable events prove to be teaching moments for the entire pharmacy team to attempt to prevent these events from occurring repeatedly. At the end of each month, the list of hypoglycemic events is reviewed by the Medication Event Reporting Team (MERT), which consists of two pharmacy residents, two clinical pharmacy specialists, and pharmacy management. At these meetings, the nature of each event is discussed and whether or not they are truly preventable. Events considered preventable are reported so that other members of the healthcare team (including those specifically involved with the event) can have an opportunity to learn from the event and make necessary adjustments going forward. Additionally, the discussions during MERT meetings are presented to the rest of the pharmacy staff during weekly meetings as a means to further educate pharmacists about preventing hypoglycemic events (ideally aiming to have pharmacists take closer looks at insulin orders and not hesitating to clarify orders with physicians before verifying).
Although the hypoglycemia monitoring spreadsheet has been helpful in educating healthcare members about preventing events, there are still gaps in the monitoring form that have made it difficult for the MERT team and other pharmacists to truly learn from certain events. As a result, a new hypoglycemia monitoring spreadsheet was developed this year to help address some of these issues. Specifically, the old spreadsheet required pharmacists to document each specific event, even if it happened to the same person. This made it difficult to understand the full course of a patient’s hospital visit and determine if the multiple events a patient had were related (especially if the events were dispersed throughout the spreadsheet). Additionally, the original spreadsheet did not require pharmacists to input all of the necessary information needed to accurately assess the etiology and severity of a particular event. This resulted in significant variability among reports submitted by different pharmacists. There was a column that allowed pharmacists to provide a brief description of the event, but most pharmacists were not taking the time to document a full report of the event consistently.
The new hypoglycemic monitoring spreadsheet incorporates more columns in an effort to help pharmacists input more specific information regarding the event so the reported details are consistent and allow for easier interpretation by the MERT team. Furthermore, several drop down options were added to the spreadsheet to help make it convenient for pharmacists to document the information (i.e. drop down tabs for diet, type of insulin regimen, hypoglycemia management strategies). Additionally, the new spreadsheet included a section regarding recurrent events. This gives pharmacists an opportunity to simply add information to the same patient row as opposed to creating an entire new row and repetitive information if a different pharmacist had documented the event previously. By making this change, the MERT team was able to get a better understanding of the nature of various events and determine what specific factors contributed.
During the initial phases of implementing the new hypoglycemia spreadsheet, the pharmacists working with the spreadsheet most frequently identified a few barriers. Specifically, some pharmacists felt overwhelmed with the new form because it included several more columns than they were used to seeing. At a quick glance, the spreadsheet seemed like it would be more work and require more information to be documented. However, after some education and practice opportunities, pharmacists quickly realized that the process does not take much longer (some felt that it was quicker), and it allows for more detailed information to be provided.
Oftentimes, pharmacists find it challenging to identify the true cause of the hypoglycemic event. Additional research continues at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital to identify particular risk factors for hypoglycemic events. A recent review of hypoglycemic events between January 1, 2017 and June 1, 2017 found that almost half of the hypoglycemic events had documented PO intake and insulin administration mismatch. Additionally, patients’ home basal insulin dose was rarely decreased until a hypoglycemic event occurred. Based on the results of this review, pharmacists may consider recommending a reduction in home basal insulin doses by 20-30% or not exceed 0.3 units/kg for initial basal insulin doses inpatient.
The new hypoglycemia monitoring form has been implemented for over three months now, and the MERT team has already identified improvements in the monitoring process and the way in which pharmacists go about addressing insulin orders. Specifically, by inputting the required information in the spreadsheet, pharmacists seem to be more able and willing to provide a detailed description of a particular event. As a result, the MERT team is able to have more thorough discussions regarding events. This has led to more conversations among pharmacists and has helped make staff more vigilant with insulin orders. With more time implementing this new spreadsheet, data could be collected to see if there have been any reductions in the number of hypoglycemic events.
Authors: Andrea Prince, PharmD and Michelle Ndiulor, PharmDPGY-2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residents
Mentor: Joshua Holland, PharmD, BCPPPsychiatry Pharmacy SpecialistCoxHealth – Springfield, MO
Program Number: 2019-05-08Approval Dates: June 5, 2019 – December 4, 2019Approved Contact Hours: One (1) CE(s) per LIVE session.
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are chronic disease states and complex disorders in which antipsychotics are utilized for treatment. Oral antipsychotics are known to have a high rate of poor adherence, which can result in relapse for the patient. Poor adherence is associated with mood relapses; increased risk for hospitalization and emergency room visits; and increased employee costs due to absenteeism, disability, and worker’s compensation. Some of the reasons for poor adherence may include side effects, poor efficacy, cognitive deficits, complexity of regimens, medication access, and an unstable living environment.1 Long-acting injectable antipsychotics (LAI APs) have shown similar efficacy and safety to oral antipsychotics and can be a treatment option for patients with adherence issues.
Overview of Antipsychotics
The use of antipsychotic agents in mental health disorders began around 1951 with chlorpromazine2,3. Prior to this period, chlorpromazine was used in patients due to its potential anesthetic effects during surgery. Psychiatrists during the time noticed its sedative effects and began using the medication in their patient populations2,3. Following this period, several oral first-generation or “typical” antipsychotic agents were introduced into the United States market for treatment of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Along with the effective mechanism of action that this class of medications brought came several adverse effects including extrapyramidal symptoms. In 1990, introduction of clozapine into the US market initiated the use of oral second-generation or “atypical” antipsychotics agents3. These agents showed a reduced potential for causing extrapyramidal symptoms.
In between the development of the various oral first- and second-generation antipsychotics, the first LAI AP was developed in 1966 by ER Squibb & Sons Ltd in the United Kingdom2,4. Fluphenazine enanthate appeared to show some potential advantages over oral antipsychotic agents including ensured contact with a provider and ease of administration. However, the medication was met with a great deal of adversity due to psychiatrists seeing it as a ‘threatening’ formulation for patients2,4.
With time, long-acting injectable antipsychotics made their way up treatment ladders for mental health conditions as prescribers and patients noticed its efficacy, tolerability, and simplified regimen. Currently there are several long-acting injectable antipsychotic agents available in the United States and other countries around the world2,4.
Mechanism of Action
The primary action of first-generation antipsychotics (FGA) is its pharmacological activity on the D2 (dopamine) receptor. This class of medication acts as an antagonist to the receptor, which is responsible for its antipsychotic effects. Unfortunately, this mechanism is also responsible for many of its various side effects. Neurolepsis results from D2 receptor antagonism. Patients that present with neurolepsis will appear apathetic and will lack motivation. Other adverse effects associated with the class’ D2 receptor antagonism include extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) and hyperprolactinemia. Other actions of this class of medication include muscarinic cholinergic receptor antagonism, histamine receptor antagonism, and alpha-1 adrenergic receptor antagonism. Orthostatic hypotension may be seen with alpha-1 adrenergic receptor antagonism while side effects such as urinary retention and dry mouth may be seen due to anticholinergic effects.
Atypical antipsychotics still have dopamine receptor blockade but also have serotonin-activity (5HT2-A antagonism). Having this second action leads to antipsychotic effects in addition to lower EPS and hyperprolactinemia risk through partial serotonin (5HT-1A) & D2 receptor agonism. Second generation antipsychotics (SGA) bind to dopamine receptors transiently and rapidly dissociate from receptors allowing dopamine to bind receptors. This is thought to be the reason why risk of extrapyramidal symptoms and hyperprolactinemia are lessened. Furthermore, some atypical antipsychotics exhibit serotonin agonism leading to increased release of dopamine and decreased release of glutamate which can potentially improve the side effect profile.
2014 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guideline Recommendations for Long-Acting Antipsychotic Use in Schizophrenia Treatment6
Currently, the 2014 NICE guidelines recommend the consideration of a depot/long-acting injectable antipsychotic as maintenance therapy. In patients living with conditions such as psychosis or schizophrenia, LAI antipsychotics may be considered after an acute episode or when there is a desire to avoid intentional/non-intentional non-adherence. Oral antipsychotics are recommended during acute episodes alongside cognitive behavioral therapy.
The decision on which antipsychotic agent to use should be one that involves both the patient and/or caregiver and the healthcare professional. Furthermore, a discussion with the patient should include the likely benefits and potential side effects associated with the medication being initiated. Likely benefits to discuss with the patient would include less frequent administration potentially leading to improved adherence and potential for reduced relapse frequencies and rehospitalization rates7. Furthermore, discussion of the potential side effects would include2:
2014 NICE Guideline Recommendations for Long-Acting Antipsychotic Use in Bipolar Disorder Treatment8
For treatment of bipolar disorder, the 2014 NICE guidelines recommend the use of oral antipsychotic agents including haloperidol, quetiapine, olanzapine, or risperidone. Even, though the guidelines do not explicitly state the use of long-acting injectable antipsychotic agents, long-acting injectable antipsychotic agents are used in practice for bipolar disorder management.
According to the guidelines, it is recommended that before starting an antipsychotic agent, the patient’s weight, pulse, blood pressure, blood lipid profile, and fasting blood glucose or glycosylated hemoglobin A1c be measured and recorded. An electrocardiogram may also be necessary in the case that the patient has cardiovascular disease, has a family history of cardiovascular disease, is being admitted as an inpatient, or if it is specified with the specific antipsychotic being used2. Monitoring recommendations for patients receiving antipsychotic treatment are listed in Table 1 below.
Table 1: Monitoring Recommendations for Patients Receiving Antipsychotic Treatment9
Place in Therapy: Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics
Adherence issues have been of growing concern. Despite having oral first and second-generation antipsychotics available for use, adherence to this formulation is lacking10. Some factors involved in nonadherence to antipsychotic therapy include lack of provider awareness of non-adherence, irregular daily routines, and complexity of the patient’s medication regimen. Evidence has shown that non-adherence rates of patients living with schizophrenia ranges from around 40 to 60% of all patients11-13. Furthermore, various studies have shown an association between non-adherence and increased rates of relapse, re-hospitalizations, worsening long-term prognosis, increased dependence on families, increased dependence on the healthcare system, and worsened functionality14-18. Long-acting injectable antipsychotics have exhibited efficacy, safety, and a more simplified medication regimen compared to some oral options4. Therefore, the use of long-acting injectables may be considered for use in this patient population.
Guidelines and literature suggest that ideal candidates for long-acting injectable antipsychotics include patients with recent-onset schizophrenia and individuals with risk factors for medication non-adherence. These risk factors include the following:
Advantages/Disadvantages of Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics7
When compared to oral antipsychotics, there are a number of potential advantages of long-acting injectable antipsychotics. One of the main advantages of LAIs APs compared to oral APs is there being no need for daily administration. Additionally with LAIs, there is less risk of intentional or unintentional overdose due to the guaranteed administration of the LAI and transparency of adherence. Benefits also include more consistent bioavailability and a more predictable correlation between dosage and plasma levels. Moreover, when patients stop taking their medication, the plasma levels of the LAI decrease more slowly as compared to oral formulations. This gives the healthcare professionals time to intervene and reduce the probability of rebound symptoms and abrupt relapses.
One of the main disadvantages associated with LAI APs is the increased time it takes to achieve steady state levels and less flexibility of dose adjustments due to the long acting nature of the formulation. With injectable medications, there is the potential for injection-site reactions as well as pain at the injection site, which can be irritating to the patient. Depending on the patient’s lifestyle and socioeconomic factors, they may not be able to make frequent visits to clinics or pharmacies for administration due to job constraints, lack of or limited transportation, and/or work schedule. Lastly, the LAI APs are more expensive than the oral APs and may additionally require prior authorizations which can delay their use.
Overview of Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics Available in the United States
All the LAI APs have product specific dosing and dosing intervals. Additionally, some products require a trial of the oral formulation as well as an overlap period of oral and LAI formulations. Selecting an optimal LAI AP should be patient-centered and various practical considerations should be discussed. All of the LAI APs require administration by a healthcare professional. The side effect profile of the LAIs generally follows the known side effect profiles of the oral formulation. Pharmacokinetics of the LAIs varies among the different agents and is summarized below in Table 2. The advantages of the FGAs are cost and a lower metabolic side effect profile when compared to LAI SGAs. The disadvantages include a higher risk of EPS and greater interpatient variability regarding pharmacokinetics. Table 3 summarizes the clinical features of the LAI APs.
First-Generation LAI Aps19-27
Fluphenazine decanoate is indicated for treatment of psychotic disorders. Tolerability with oral fluphenazine should be established prior to initiation of injection. The drug vehicle for the injection is sesame oil thus close attention to the patient’s allergy profile is warranted. Initially, it is dosed at one to two-week intervals. Once steady state is reached, the dosing interval may be lengthened to four to six weeks.
Haloperidol decanoate is used for the treatment of schizophrenia. Tolerability with oral haloperidol should be established prior to use and overlap with oral haloperidol can be tapered and discontinued following the second or third injection. The vehicle for the injection is sesame oil similar to fluphenazine decanoate.
Second-Generation LAI Aps19-27
Abilify Maintena® (aripiprazole monohydrate) is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia and maintenance of bipolar 1 disorder. The drug vehicle is microparticles in water. Abilify Maintena® requires the patient to establish tolerability with 14 days of oral therapy and also requires a 14-day overlap of oral therapy. There are two types of kits one of which is a prefilled dual chamber syringe and the other contains vials of lyophilized powder which require reconstitution.
Aristada® (aripiprazole lauroxil) has an FDA-labeled indication for the treatment of schizophrenia. Tolerability should be established with oral aripiprazole prior to initiation treatment with Aristada®. Overlap with oral aripiprazole for 21 days is necessary with the first injection unless using Aristada Initio®. Aristada Initio® is a one-time injection that can be given on day 1 with a single 30mg dose of oral aripiprazole in addition to the first Aristada dose. When using Aristada Initio®, the 21 day oral aripiprazole overlap is not necessary. Aristada® is supplied as an off-white aqueous suspension in single-use pre-filled syringes.
Zyprexa Relprevv® (olanzapine pamoate) is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia. It does not require overlap with the oral formulation but does require the establishment of tolerability with oral olanzapine prior to initiation. Zyprexxa Relprevv® is supplied as a microcrystalline suspension in vials. Zyprexa Relprevv® has a small risk for post-injection delirium/sedation syndrome which limits its use. The signs and symptoms associated with the reaction include: sedation, anxiety, confusion, aggressiveness, dizziness, ataxia and extrapyramidal symptoms. After an injection, patients require monitoring for three hours by a healthcare professional. Prescribers, facilities, and pharmacies must enroll in a national registry for documentation of this adverse event.
Invega Sustenna® (paliperidone palmitate) is indicated for treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. It does not require overlap with oral paliperidone; however, it does require establishment of tolerability with oral paliperidone. Invega Sustenna® requires two initiation doses during the first week to rapidly attain steady-state paliperidone concentrations.
Invega Trinza® (paliperidone palmitate) is indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia. Once patients are established on Invega Sustenna® for a least a four month duration, they may transition to Invega Trinza®, which has a three-month dosing interval. It is supplied as a suspension in a pre-filled syringe which requires vigorous shaking to ensure a homogenous suspension.
Risperdal Consta® (risperidone) is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and for the long-term treatment of bipolar 1 disorder. Tolerability with oral risperidone should be established prior to use of Risperdal Consta®. Overlap with oral risperidone for three weeks is necessary to establish adequate therapeutic plasma concentrations. Risperdal Consta® is supplied as a kit that requires reconstitution of a microsphere polymer suspension using a vial, vial adapter, and pre-filled syringe with diluent.
Perseris® (risperidone) is a once monthly injection indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults. Tolerability with oral risperidone should be established prior to use of Perseris®. Perseris® is supplied as pre-filled liquid syringe carrying the delivery system and a prefilled powder syringe which contains risperidone.
Antipsychotic agents have been used for many years for the treatment of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. First and second-generation antipsychotics have slightly different chemical profiles leading to reduced risk of certain adverse effects in second-generation (atypical) antipsychotics. Pharmacists can utilize their drug knowledge to assist in product selection, dosing, administration, missed doses, and drug-drug interactions. Additionally, some pharmacists are able to dispense and administer LAI APs to patients thus increasing medication access to patients.
Overall, long-acting injectable antipsychotic agents have been shown to be efficacious and relatively safe for use in patients living with mental health disorders. Long-acting injectable antipsychotics may be used to aid in the improvement of medication adherence by improving patient access to medications.
Authors: Arianne MacGillivray, PharmD and Ijeoma Onyema, PharmDPGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residents
Mentor: Anthony Lucido PharmD, BCPSPGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency DirectorSSM Health DePaul Hospital – Bridgeton, MO
Program Number: 2019-05-09Approval Dates: June 5, 2019 – December 4, 2019Approved Contact Hours: One (1) CE(s) per LIVE session.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a debilitating mental disorder, with approximately 17.3 million adults in the United States and 216 million people worldwide experiencing at least one major depressive episode.8 This disorder is characterized by at least two weeks of low mood that is often accompanied by low self-esteem, anhedonia, fatigue, and possible suicidal ideation. The pathophysiology behind major depressive disorder has been explained by multiple neurobiologic factors.
Genetics has been thought to play a role as well as stressful life events. Chronic stress has been found to lead to increased amounts of corticotrophin-releasing hormone released from the hypothalamus and subsequent increases in cortisol levels. A lack of monoamines such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin has been found in depressed patients and increases in available monoamines is the main mechanism of action of the majority of current antidepressant therapy. Dysregulation in GABA and glutaminergic processes as well as the circadian rhythm has also been associated with depression. Additionally, depressed patients have been found to have structural neurobiologic abnormalities, such a smaller hippocampus.7
Secondary depression can be caused by diseases and/or medications. For example, endocrine disorders such as diabetes and hypothyroidism have been associated with depression. Low levels of vitamins and minerals have also been associated. Specially, a low level of vitamin D has been found to be closely linked to depressive states. Magnesium has also been linked to depression, and will be discussed in further detail throughout the rest of this publication. Medications such as glucocorticoids, interferons, opioids, and beta blockers have been associated with depression; however, evidence relating to medication-induced depression is conflicting. There is question whether or not medications actually induce depression or if the perceived changes in mood are just related to these medications’ side effects such as fatigue, insomnia, lack of appetite, etc.
There are five classes of antidepressants that are indicated for use in major depressive disorder and are currently used in practice. These include: tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIS), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and “other” antidepressants such as bupropion, nefazodone, trazodone, and mirtazapine. Potential common side effects of antidepressants include: GI problems, anxiety, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, and/or sedation. The potential of these medications to cause these side effects has notoriously caused significant patient concern; however, the majority of these should subside within the first few weeks of initiation. Based on these side effects, cost, duration, and potential to cause drug interactions, the 2010 American Psychiatric Association Guidelines recommend that SSRIs, SNRIs, mirtazapine, and bupropion be utilized first line. According to these guidelines, patients will generally see improvement with these medications in the first 1-2 weeks of treatment, but the medications may take up to 12 weeks to see full effect. If a patient experiences some improvement in depressive symptoms within the first few weeks of an antidepressant initiation, but moderate improvement is not achieved after 4-8 weeks at the highest tolerated dose, a different medication may be considered.1 Nonprescription medications such as SAM-e and fish oil have been evaluated for antidepressive efficacy, but current research is inconsistent in regards to the validity and applicability of the data analyzed.
MOA of Magnesium in Depression
The true mechanism that magnesium plays in depression is unknown; however, it likely serves as a multi-factorial contributor in the depression. This is because of its impact on many of the pathways, hormones, and neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. In the chronic mild stress model, the levels of magnesium and cortisol have been shown to be inversely proportionate. Also, magnesium is a calcium antagonist via its voltage-dependent blockade of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) channel. By inhibiting the influx of calcium ions, less toxic reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide radicals are produced, leading to a reduction in neuronal swelling and neuronal death. This then results in less neuronal dysfunction and improved synapse production and activity.Moreover, magnesium has some impact on the modulation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors; it likely has an inhibitory effect on GABA. This action downregulates the inhibitory effect of GABA on hippocampal activity, which contributes to suppression of hippocampal kindling and adrenocorticotropic hormone release to the HPA axis, which is a frequent occurrence in depression. Magnesium has also been suggested to play a role in systemic inflammation and the production of ATP, which could validate the impact the mineral has within the chronic stress pathophysiology model of depression in future studies.
There are currently no guidelines that recommend the use of magnesium for major depressive disorder treatment. However, several studies have been done to confirm that there is a reduction in magnesium levels in depressed patients as well as evaluate magnesium’s effectiveness in patients with major depressive disorder.
Table 1 – Studies Evaluating Magnesium’s Impact on Depression
Summary of Clinical Evidence
The studies that have been performed to assess magnesium’s antidepressant efficacy are highly variable in methodology. Different assessment tools for determining depression were used; none of the studies assessed used the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), which is considered to many to be the gold standard for indicating depressive symptoms in research studies. This variety in assessment methods could compromise the generalizability of recommending magnesium to depressed patients. Due to the high ambiguity of the association of serum magnesium levels to depressive symptoms in these studies (as many studies in the past have shown increased, decreased, and normal levels of magnesium in depressed patients), it has been theorized that serum magnesium levels may not be the most appropriate indicators of magnesium’s impact on major depressive disorder. Specifically, the variability of magnesium levels seen in these studies have suggested that proved that not all magnesium compositions are equally absorbed into the bloodstream. Magnesium chloride, sulfate, glycinate and taurinate have been associated with higher bioavailability than magnesium oxide.18
Overall, more robust research and investigation into supplementation for behavioral health management is needed to truly determine magnesium’s place in depression management, specifically with larger diverse populations and different indicators used to evaluate the efficacy of magnesium in depression (i.e. tissue magnesium level as a proxy of bioavailability). While not currently recommended in any guideline for depression, magnesium supplementation could be considered for those with mild depressive disorder who are also using behavioral interventions or an oral antidepressant given future research produces more tangible data that confirms its antidepressive effects.