93 posts categorized "Pharmacy Practice"


PCP Grads Travel to Kenya, Share Expertise in Underserved Areas

Kenya8Two recent pharmacy graduates of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences had the opportunity to travel abroad and share their expertise with health professionals in Kenya – an area where medical and pharmaceutical services are limited.

Alumnus Cornelius (Neil) D. Pitts P’73, PharmD’04, frequently travels to Kenya to help his peers overseas develop and provide medical and pharmaceutical services in underserved areas. Recent graduates Laney Jones PharmD'14 and Carl Gerdine PharmD'14 joined Dr. Pitts and alumnus Leo Ross PharmD'73, as they traveled to Nairobi during their off-rotation period in the spring to work with other pharmacists at St. Mary's Missionary Hospital and Kenyatta University.

Dr. Pitts said they went into the trip with three objectives in mind: Learn about Kenya’s healthcare system, perform volunteer service at medical camps, and connect with pharmacy students at Kenyatta University. All three objectives were met, he said.

 “The dedication of Laney and Carl to careers of service, demonstrates the diverse interests of pharmacy students in exploring careers beyond traditional pharmacy practice,” Dr. Pitts said.

The combination of service and learning opportunities were coordinated through a joint effort by Dr. Pitts and Dr. Titus Kahiga, professor and chief of pharmacology at Kenyatta University. Through this partnership, Jones and Gerdine were able to visit several Kenyan agencies, including the Kenyan Medical Supply Agency, Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (APhA equivalent), Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board (FDA equivalent), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

During their time in Kenya, alumni and recent grads had the opportunity to:

  • Hold a medical clinic for more than 280 children at Huruma Children’s Home in Ngong Hills, Kenya
  • Visit GlaxoSmithKline to tour the facilities and chat with the director of medical and regulatory affairs
  • Provide healthcare services to underserved individuals at hospitals and orphanages 

Kenya5While visiting GlaxoSmithKline, the USciences team learned about drug distribution and research in Kenya, as well as counterfeit medications in developing countries. They also sat in on patient clinic visits and surgeries at St. Mary's, and participated in clinical rounds to help meet the needs of the underserved population. Lastly, the team delivered hands-on healthcare to children at the orphanage through pediatric blood pressure screenings, direct administration of medications, and deworming - a routine treatment made necessary by the ingestion of unclean water.

"Although many orphanages are served by mission organizations and other volunteer groups, seldom do pharmacists accompany these teams," said Dr. Pitts. "The outreach of this Philadelphia connection, played an essential role by managing and dispensing medication while others diagnosed and prescribed." 

Dr. Jones will be attending Columbia University School of Public Health this fall, and Dr. Gerdine recently began a clinical pharmacy residency at Paoli Hospital (Mainline Health).

Click here to see more photos from their trip.


PCP Students 'Take a Swing' at Promoting Healthy Hearts Across Philly

Blood pressureA pair of pharmacy students from University of the Sciences put their skills to use as they performed free blood pressure screenings at the American Heart Associations' 17th annual Home Runs for Heart event on May 7-8.

"This was the third, consecutive year that students in our doctorate of pharmacy program participated in this wonderful event," said Grace Earl PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor or pharmacy. "It's a fun way for our students to share their expertise with the community for a good cause."

The two-day home run derby, hosted at Citizens Bank Park, was born out of the sudden death of Hall of Fame outfielder and broadcaster Richie Ashburn. With support from the Phillies, the American Heart Association has raised nearly $2 million over the past 17 years.

Students who participated in the event are members of the University's Operation Heart, a student-group on campus that is associated with the Academy of Student Pharmacists-American Pharmacists Association (APhA-ASP). Scott Cheeseman PharmD'16, patient care coordinator of Operation Heart, said the organization spent the school year promoting the importance of healthy hearts by hosting various blood pressure screenings across the Philadelphia-area, as well as through its second annual Operation Fashion Show event to promote smoking cessation awareness on campus.

FanaticBrielle Carramusa PharmD'16, former patient care coordinator of Operation Heart, said she provided extra special attention to the Phillies' own “Phillie Fanatic," and made sure he had his blood pressure measured. The students were accompanied by Brandon Patterson PharmD, and Dr. Earl, both assistant professors in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration.

Click here to see photos from the recent Operation Fashion Show.


Pharmacy Alumna to Showcase Vibrant, Abstract Paintings on June 6

Alum ladyBy day, pharmacy alumna Stacy Rosemarin P'83 reviews and manages the medication regimens of patients through her role as a consultant pharmacist for Pharma-Care, Inc. Outside of work hours, however, Rosemarin switches gears and channels her inner Picasso as she creates vibrant, abstract paintings.

“At a young age, my parents noticed that I was more interested in my art classes than academic classes,” said Rosemarin. “Ironically enough, I have been a pharmacist for more than 30 years, but I still remain passionate about creating art.”

Rosemarin’s collection, “On the Wall Abstracts: Living Life in Color” will be showcased at an upcoming solo art show held at Idiosyncrazies Gallery, on Friday, June 6. This art show is open to the public, and will kick off with a reception at 6 p.m. The gallery is located at 638 Arnold Ave., in Point Pleasant, NJ.

Throughout the years, Rosemarin’s artwork has been displayed in galleries across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida.  In fact, during her teen years, Rosemarin was one of several artists who painted a mural featured in the 1988 film, Running on Empty.

“My travels throughout the world to exotic places have been a big part of my artwork’s inspiration,” said Rosemarin. “I also love using vibrant colors that reflect my happy, fun, and cheerful personality.”

Rosemarin also served as University of the Sciences’ director of alumni relations from 1999 to 2008.


PCP Students Learn the Ins and Outs of Pediatric Pharmacy (Video)

PharmEvent1More than two dozen student pharmacists explored a career in pediatric pharmacy during University of the Sciences’ first pediatric clinical pharmacist round-table event held in the spring semester. This event – hosted by the University’s student chapter of the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group – allowed students to engage with pediatric pharmacy practitioners as they discussed residency, niche fields within pediatrics, and the pharmacist’s role in treating children.

“This event provided student pharmacists with an opportunity to network and gain a better understanding of what a career in pediatric pharmacy entails,” said Aisha Uddin PharmD'15, president of the student organization. “My peers definitely left the event with a real-life understanding of what these types of pharmacists do on a daily basis.”

Guest speakers represented a variety of local healthcare institutions, including Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Saint Christopher's Hospital for Children, and the Children's Regional Hospital at Cooper University Hospital. Opportunities in pharmaceutical areas such as pediatric intensive care, neonatal intensive care, cardiology, academia, and general pediatric pharmacy practice were also discussed. The event’s discussion topics ranged from the journey into pediatric pharmacy and proper training required, to the typical duties and responsibilities of pediatric pharmacists.

With a keen interest in pediatric medicine, Michael Flacco PharmD’15 spent the spring semester exploring the implications of underdosing acetaminophen in pediatric patients.  He shared his results with the University community during the institution’s 12th Annual Research Day on April 10.

"If children are being underdosed [with acetaminophen], like the majority of pediatric patients were in my research, they are either going to be in pain longer or febrile longer, which could lead to longer hospital stays and increased costs," said Flacco. Watch as he presents his research below:

The purpose of the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group of the University’s Philadelphia College of Pharmacy is to enhance the education and practice of pediatric pharmacy for student pharmacists, as well as the medication outcomes for pediatric patients. As an expert in pediatric pharmacy, professor Laura L. Bio PharmD, BCPS, serves as the organization’s advisor.


Founder of 'We Feed the Homeless Philly' Speaks to Pharmacy Students

HomelessPrior to the end of the 2013-14 school year at University of the Sciences, pharmacy students enrolled in the elective course, "Pharmacist Role in Promoting Lifestyle Changes to Maintain Cardiovascular Health" had the opportunity to host the founder of a local volunteer organization, “We Feed the Homeless Philly.”

Grace Earl PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, said this particular course aimed to help students develop skills and materials to create a community health promotion event. That's why it seemed fitting for students to engage with Craig Stroman, executive director and founder of the Philadelphia-based homeless organization.

"Craig spoke about the needs of the homeless in Philadelphia, and we learned that between 750 to 1,200 children spend the night in a Philadelphia shelter," said Dr. Earl. "Through recent, informal surveys, Craig found that more than 95 percent of the local homeless did not complete high school."

Contrary to the common beliefs among society, Stroman stressed that “drugs” and “drug abuse” are not the sole causes of homelessness. He shared several heartfelt stories with the class, including how a widower lost everything he had because he was fully dependent on his late wife, and failed to pay his mortgage or bills after she died.  In another case, Stroman said a homeless family was squatting in a vacant house after the father lost his job. After driving this family to a shelter on a Saturday, Stroman learned that Philadelphia shelters only accept "new" families on Monday through Friday, through an intake process.

"As healthcare professionals, we learned that the homeless community's greatest need is food and shelter," said Dr. Earl. "Healthcare may not be the number one priority in their daily life, and that is important for us to understand in our professions."

Stroman can be seen offering meals to homeless individuals at Love Park and other areas in the city on Saturdays and Tuesdays, and he has been successful in increasing support from 40 to 700 volunteers.  He also works as a housing investigator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Students in the class joined members of the University's Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration to host a food donation drive to benefit We Feed the Homeless Philly.  For more information regarding Stroman's organization, as well as volunteer opportunities, visit wefeedthehomelessphilly.org.


Taking Advantage of Adherence Programs

A simple internet search will provide both patients and health care providers with a multitude of current adherence programs/services. Both the availability of programs and participation from the patients will allow for improvement of overall medication adherence. Multiple adherence programs and the future of medication adherence will be discussed to gain a better understanding of the benefits for increasing adherence.

Adherence Programs:  Medication adherence can improve health, and reduce costs. Therefore, it is important that there are many adherence programs available for the public to take advantage of; either sponsored by a health care company, pharmacy, hospital or ambulatory care clinics. Some of the larger companies that provide adherence services include Lash Group, Optum and Humana. These companies provide supplemental services to both health care providers and patients such as personal consultation with a pharmacist or nurse, pamphlets about different disease states and personal medication reminders. These services are available to the public and it may be beneficial for patients to take advantage of such opportunity.

Pharmacist’s role: One of the easier ways to improve medication adherence is by developing a relationship between patients and their pharmacists. Pharmacists can keep track of patients’ current medication lists, refill schedules, disease states, and work to resolve any barriers that patients may have. Major drug chains such as CVS Caremark pharmacy makes an effort to understand the barriers that are preventing patients from taking their medications. In order to resolve issues CVS uses their pharmacists on the frontline to work one on one with patients to answer questions and improve adherence.

Prospect for Medication Adherence: After careful consideration of past methods and strategic research, the consultant group Frost & Sullivan provides insight on what direction medication adherence programs should be moving. Current methods of improving medication adherence include refill reminders, brochures, blister cards and telephoning. Future strategies hope to avoid general approach and instead focus on each patient’s specific needs or barriers to improve medication adherence. One of the strategies includes pharmaceutical companies to initiate a loyalty card program where patients are offered a financial discount at every fill.  While there may be some benefit to this, one does need to wonder if this strategy will be counter-productive to the pharmacist-patient or physician-patient relationship.  Moving forward technology will also play a key factor in improving adherence as discussed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). With an increase use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) facilities should be able to measure level of medication adherence, evaluate economic impact, increase electronic prescribing, improve drug formulary, and initiate medication reconciliation in all healthcare facilities. Other technology adjustments such as video conferencing, smartphone applications, and electronic availability of medication list for both patients and providers will help advance medication adherence strategies.

A variety of adherence programs are available for all patients to participate in which will then help increase health outcomes. Health care systems and providers are implementing new strategies to reach the common goal of improving medication adherence. Strategies such as focusing on specific patient factors, cost incentives and availability of electronic information will help increase adherence. Taking advantage of multiple adherence programs and new strategies will benefit the future of healthcare.

Sheenu Joseph, PharmD '15


Role of a Pharmacist in Medication Adherence - Across the Ages

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals known for their medication expertise to provide the best care for their patients. Using very unique skills such as medication knowledge, disease management, and patient education, pharmacists can improve patients’ medication adherence. Patients have the opportunity to contact their local pharmacist through multiple ways to develop a connection with their pharmacist and receive the best treatment. Focusing on pharmacists’ relationships with patients of various age groups can help determine ways to improve overall medication adherence.

Pediatrics:  Pharmacists play an important role in the well-being of pediatrics. Factors contributing to non-adherence may include minimal parental support, improper timing of dosage, and even inaccurate dosing. A study shows that the intervention of pharmacists counseling patients and families in regarding to medication regimen improves health outcomes for pediatrics. Accurate dosing and timing of doses also play an important role in treating children. Therefore, pharmacist’s role in electronic scripts allows for safe pediatric prescribing, when prescriptions include child’s age, weight, and proper directions to minimize miscommunication. Pharmacists can continue to be involved in a patient’s care, as the child becomes a young adult.

Young Adults:  When people aged 16 to 24 are diagnosed with a disease, it can be extremely difficult for individuals to understand their condition, medication purpose and still be adherent to therapy. Pharmacists can play an active role in managing these barriers of limited disease knowledge, minimal support from family and friends, and fear of adverse reactions. For example, pharmacists are in a key position to communicate with young adults diagnosed with HIV about the  the importance of 100% medication adherence, missed dose scenarios, and management of adverse effects.  Pharmacist can even provide details of the disease state and how the patient  can contact a local support group.

Adults:  As patients grow older, issues such as medication expenses, comorbidities and health literacy may contribute to improper management of therapy. Many adults are also taking multiple medications to manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension. A study conducted in Spain shows that community pharmacist intervention significantly improved asthma control. Pharmacist interventions included explaining inhaler techniques, distinguishing between acute verses chronic asthma management, increasing pharmacy visits and stressing the importance of adherence. Thus pharmacist contribution greatly assists adult patients with adherence issues.

Elderly: Additional barriers develop as patients continue to age, such as polypharmacy, medication perception, and even growing disabilities. Pharmacists can play a significant role in patients’ adherence levels as seen by the study results, conducted in patients >65 years old, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. There was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure and an increase in adherence for those patients in pharmacy care compared to usual care. Interventions used in the study such as individualized medication education, blister packs, and regular follow up visits can be adapted into all pharmacy practice settings. The elderly population needs constant assistance and it is a great place for pharmacists to intervene by small modifications such as providing large font labeling, easy open caps, timely refills and patient education.

As patients of all ages get sick, they go to their doctor, receive a prescription, fill the prescription at a local pharmacy, take medication home and then return to the pharmacy for refills. This timeline of events repeats every time someone is sick. Therefore, pharmacists play an integral role in  patients’ medication therapy management and can help improve adherence. Focusing on different age group barriers and finding solutions, can contribute to the development of a relationship between the patient and the pharmacist, to receive and provide the best care.

Sheenu Joseph, PharmD ‘15


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Pharmacy Students, Leaders Unite for Pharmacy Legislative Day at Capitol

PCPMore than a dozen student pharmacists from University of the Sciences' Philadelphia College of Pharmacy gathered at the Pennslyvania Capitol for the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association's (PPA) Pharmacy Legislative Day on Wednesday, April 2.

The students and their faculty advisors helped to “paint” the Capitol white, wearing their identifying lab coats and pushing the importance of “Pharmacists: We Make a Difference!” More than 250 pharmacy students from seven schools of pharmacy across the Commonwealth, as well as more than 80 pharmacists, walked the halls of the Capitol, participated in the Pharmacy Rally, and made legislative visits.

Pharmacy Legislative Day attendees met with a significant number of legislators or their staff and delivered packets of information to any legislative offices for which visits were not able to be scheduled.  The visits covered important issues of the profession focusing on pharmacy benefit managers' regulation and transparency, fair pharmacy audits, and expanded immunization opportunities. This valuable opportunity for PPA members to have their voices heard - and to stress the importance of issues facing pharmacy today - was an important and crucial step in educating legislators about pharmacists and their concerns.

Each of the pharmacy schools had displays showcasing information on the value pharmacists provide and performed various health related screenings. Information on medication adherence, smoking cessation, immunization awareness, hypertension assessment, heart health, blood pressure and cardiovascular risk assessment, and blood glucose was displayed in the East Wing Rotunda throughout Pharmacy Legislative Day. Philadelphia College of Pharmacy’s table focused on medication adherence and taking medications appropriately. The PPA also arranged for group tours of the Capitol and some special legislative meetings for students.

USciences' pharmacy students who participated, include: Stephanie Yenner PharmD'14, Priya Patel PharmD'14, Monica Huon PharmD'14, Courtney Spina PharmD'15, Kevin Farrow PharmD'15, Matthew Garin PharmD'15, Breanna Kester PharmD'16, Fidelia Bernice PharmD'16, Colleen D'Amico PharmD'16, Kevin Pak PharmD'19, Justin George PharmD'19, and Antonella Frattarelli PharmD'15. Pharmacy professor Dr. Dan Hussar is also pictured here.


Medication Adherence in the Elderly Population

Which population do you see most at your local pharmacy? It is the elderly population (ages >65), that are usually at the pharmacy trying to fill multiple prescriptions. There are many areas that the elderly population needs assistance with, in order to achieve optimal medication therapy and prolong life. Barriers such as polypharmacy, comorbidities, and growing disabilities can be analyzed to provide better treatment outcomes.

Barriers: The elderly population struggles with an increasing number of medications or polypharmacy as they age. Italian researchers concluded that number of drugs prescribed at hospital discharge and minimal comprehension about the purpose of each medication contributed to overall non-adherence. The average patient in the study had a total of 9 drugs to take on a regular basis. It is this pill burden that the elderly population needs help managing. Because of multiple medications, patients may feel overwhelmed and even stop taking their medication accurately according to schedule. Patients are taking multiple medications for hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol and other comorbidities.

Comorbidities, if not managed properly can lead to future complications and decrease patients’ life expectancy. Schuz and colleagues concluded that if older people with multiple illnesses are convinced that their medication serves their specific needs, the more likely they will stay adherent. Elderly patients may not see a purpose in taking so many medications and may even consider one disease state more important the other. Thus, it is important to explain the use of each medication in treating a specific illness.

Additionally, growing disabilities such as vision loss can contribute to a patient’s overall adherence. It is common for elderly patients to lose their eye sight as they age and therefore contribute to unwanted difficulties. Patients will have trouble reading medicine labels or treatment directions. With this inconvenience, patients may even ignore the direction on the prescription bottle and start taking the medication on their own terms. It is these arising issues with age that may result in poor adherence and unsuccessful disease management.

Hypertension: Most elderly patients are on antihypertensive agents to prevent future cardiac issues. Although patients may not see physical changes, it is important for them to be adherent for long term results. Multiple questionnaires showed that illness perception and beliefs about antihypertensive medications played a role in patients’ adherence. It was more likely that patients followed a drug regimen if they knew that the long-term health consequences of cardiac complications, stroke, and mortality can be decreased. Elderly patients tend to take antihypertensive medication if they know that it is purposeful and efficacious for their health.

Barriers such polypharmacy, comorbidities and other disabilities should be resolved so that the elderly can better manage their health. Pharmacists can work one-on-one with these patients so that they can provide better resources for these patients. Resources such as pill kits, large font instructions or even a counseling session can go a long way in assisting elderly patients. The pharmacy has a lot of valuable information that patients can use in order to improve their overall medication adherence.

Sheenu Joseph, PharmD '15

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