127 posts categorized "Pharmacy"

04/07/2016

Policies to Help Stabilize Rising Drug Costs

In the last blog I reviewed drug pricing terminology between the wholesaler and pharmacies. In this blog I will review how this process can lead to increasing drug costs. I will also two discuss public policies that have been implemented to try to stabilize that trend.

As mentioned previously, pharmacies are reimbursed at a discounted Average Wholesale Price (AWP). Pharmacies can seek deals with wholesalers to buy drugs at the Wholesale Acquisition Cost, WAC, or Average Manufacturer Price, AMP. Pharmacies will then make a profit by selling at around AWP. In other words, a pharmacy’s profit can be represented as AWP minus either WAC or AMP. Pharmacies can increase their profits by selling drugs with higher AWPs. Knowing this, manufacturers may attempt to set a higher AWP.  Since pharmacies are drawn to higher AWPs and purchase from wholesalers, wholesalers will carry the highest AWP drugs they can to satisfy the pharmacies they sell to. This relationship is similar to that of the manufacturer and the wholesaler. The manufacturer will create the highest AWP possible to attract the wholesalers who are going to buy at lower price like AMP anyway. Because wholesalers do not purchase drugs at AWP, and instead purchase drugs at a lower price, an increase in the AWP will not cause them to search for other manufacturers. This means that manufacturers can increase AWP while simultaneously satisfying the needs of pharmacies, making their product more attractive to wholesalers without losing business to competing manufacturers. AWP has a natural tendency then to increase because pharmacies want it higher and manufacturers can increase it without the risk of losing business from wholesalers.

Increasing AWP does increase costs to insurers and taxpayers. Since the government does serve as an insurer, it has put policies in place to prevent increases in AWP from bankrupting them. The federal government does this by imposing a Federal Upper Limit, FUL. This limit is the maximum price at which Medicaid will reimburse a pharmacy for a drug. In order for a drug to qualify for an FUL price, it must have at least three equivalent products made by three different manufacturers. To put is simply, if “Drug X” had an FUL price, it must have three different therapeutically equivalent generics that are made by at least three competing manufacturers. The FUL prices is set at 150% of the cost for the cheapest equivalent drug. If “Drug X” is made by manufacturers 1, 2 and 3, and the cheapest price is from manufacturer 1 at $100 dollars, then “Drug X”’s FUL price is $150. These strict qualifications means that some drug do not have an FUL price and of those that do, paying 150% for the cheapest generic may not produce any savings. In order to make up for these limitations, some states have created Maximum Allowable Costs or MAC (more information available here). MAC was designed to operate as a continuation of FUL to further increase savings but at a state level. MAC prices are uniquely set by each state and do not have strict rules for establishing what drugs qualify for MAC and what the price ceiling should be. This has created variation between states with some states achieving more drugs that qualify and more aggressive price ceilings than others. Whether or not these MACs were worth the resources put into their creation is something that remains to be seen.

In conclusion, both state and the federal government have created policies to the curb the natural tendency for AWP to rise. The federal government first created the Federal Upper Limit, or FUL, and states later created Maximum Allowable Costs, or MAC based up the FUL. The FUL has severe limitations in the form of drug qualifications that are too strict and a 150% price ceiling that can be ineffective. The MAC on the other hand may be a step in the right direction. Since the MAC is based off of and shares similar limitations to the FUL, its effectiveness remains to be seen. Moreover, while FUL and MAC may be effective in some situations, they alone are not enough to prevent increasing drug costs.

Robert Bond, PharmD '18

 

03/21/2016

Drug pricing - The Basics

Whether a pharmacist practices in retail, hospital or industry, buying and dispensing medication to patients will be important. Both processes are transactions which involves drug pricing. Drug pricing is therefore important, because without its consideration, patients may not be able to afford their medication and pharmacies may close.

In order to stay profitable, pharmacy managers must pay special attention to several methods of drug pricing. Herein, I will walk through the three main methods of drug pricing – the AWP, WAC and AMP. First, the Average Wholesale Price (AWP), represents a benchmark price wholesalers charge to pharmacies. AWP is also a price insurers consider when negotiating how much they pay per drug to pharmacies. Second, the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC), is the price wholesalers pay to the manufacturer for individual drugs. The profit a wholesaler makes on and individual drug is represented by the difference between AWP minus WAC. Third, is the Average Manufacturer Price, AMP, the net price wholesalers pay to manufacturers for all purchased drugs. The AMP may therefore be even lower than WAC because it factors in potential deals that wholesalers may receive from manufacturers.

Since the AWP is typically the “sticker price” of a drug, it is not the price typically paid by a pharmacy. Therefore, the AWP less a percentage is considered the price paid by a pharmacy.  The pharmacy, in turn, is reimbursed by an insurer on a percentage off the AWP (e.g., AWP-16%).   The pharmacy will buy drugs from wholesalers at a discounted AWP and reimbursed by the insurer at AWP minus a percentage. Subtracting the price paid from the amount reimbursed by the insurer would represent the pharmacy’s profit margin.

The wholesaler does not sell drugs to pharmacies at AWP. Instead, the wholesaler will sell to the pharmacies at WAC or AMP plus a negotiated percentage. This benefits the wholesaler by attracting more pharmacies to purchase drugs from them. Each pharmacy manager knows that they get paid at AWP minus a percentage. They therefore want to purchase at a price lower than the reimbursement rate of AWP-%. The wholesaler selling at WAC or AMP – prices which typically lower than the discounted - will attract more pharmacies than those selling at a discounted. At the end of the day, this arrangement is beneficial for both the wholesaler and independent pharmacy. The wholesaler gets a competitive edge and the independent sell drugs at competitive prices while remaining profitable.

 

Robert Bond

P2 Pharmacy Student

03/01/2016

Can technology stop drug prices from rising?

There has been a well-documented trend toward higher drug prices in the US. Turing Pharma turned heads by raising the price of Daraprim® by 5,000 percent, and there has been more news coverage of the practice of hiking drug prices. At the same time, new technologies and group purchasing power are being harnessed to counteract this trend. These two competing forces will help shape the ongoing debate on drug pricing.

In early February 2016, Blink Health announced the launch of its mobile app and website, purposed to help consumers secure the lowest possible retail price. Blink is not a retail pharmacy, but it works with MedImpact, a pharmacy benefits management company affiliated with 60,000 pharmacy locations. Users can supposedly get better prices on generics, because Blink can use its group purchasing power to negotiate lower prices. The app and website quote a price, which the user pays prior to going to the pharmacy. He/she still must provide a prescription to the retail pharmacy, but the price is secured for any of the affiliated locations.

Blink claims that users can save 80% on generics; that 40% of its medications cost less than $5; and, that 50% of its medications cost less than $10. The company claims that higher prices cause patients to skip doses and to stop the regimen entirely. They claim that their tool will help increase access to medications through lower prices.

Navigating drug pricing is notoriously labyrinthine. Most retailers do not post their prices and prices vary for different consumers and consumer types within the same market. Lisa Gill, deputy editor of Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs is quoted by the NY Times saying, “The prices are all over the map, even within the same ZIP code.”

Since 2006, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has been providing certain generics for $4 for a 30 day prescription. The company maintains a list of drugs that it provides at that price. The company provides this price by using its purchasing power, and by taking advantage of its distribution system. There are other programs, such as GoodRX, that aim to provide patients the lowest possible prices on generics. GoodRX is similar to Blink Health, but it provides coupons to be used at the retail site. Blink allows patients to pay for the drug prior to picking it up at one of the affiliated pharmacies.

Brand name drugs fall outside of the scope of these programs. In addition, generic drugs like Daraprim®, which is a sole-source product, will not likely be affected by these and similar price control programs. However, Wal-Mart, Blink, GoodRX and others are applying downward price pressure to the market for generic drugs. Whether this is sufficient to keep prices under control, overall, is yet to be seen. The companies leverage technology to secure lower prices. Consumers demand lower prices, and these services will survive and profit if they provide value to consumers. The prices they offer are closer to the prices paid by insurers.

High drug prices can have a deleterious effect on patient behavior. As Blink Health has claimed, higher prices often discourage patients from filling out prescriptions and often push them to skip doses. Tools that help patients secure drugs at lower prices, even if only in retail settings, should have a positive effect. A case can be made that these tools address only the symptom of higher prices and not the causes. Factors that drive up prices may be ignored, since these tools provide lower prices as an end result. Drug companies can refuse to address higher prices by pointing to these tools as proof that their drugs are ultimately affordable.

The ongoing drug price debate, fueled by Turing’s move and others, highlights the high cost of prescription medications. The new tools take advantage of the information gap between consumer and producers. They do provide a valuable service, although the debate continues. Should there be price controls on critical drugs? Should the US move to a single buyer system, as is the case in Canada and European countries? If so, Blink, GoodRX, and other similar businesses will be impacted, since they would be unable to provide lower prices than that set by the government.

Magdi Stino, Health Policy PhD Candidate

01/11/2016

New course offering to immerse students in ‘Modern Vaccinology’

Vaccinology_Twitter_main_03Happy New Year! This spring, I am excited to launch a new course in the Department of Biological Sciences that will immerse USciences students in modern vaccinology. Students enrolled in BS415: Modern Issues in Vaccinology will have the opportunity to actively engage the public and their colleagues in scientific discussions regarding vaccines and immunization programs.

Before I get into details about this new course, I want to take a moment to briefly introduce myself. My name is Stacey Gorski, PhD, and I am an assistant professor of biological sciences here at USciences. I am also an alumna of this University and earned my BS in biology in 2008, before earning my doctorate at University of Virginia in microbiology, immunology & cancer biology. I then worked in vaccine design and manufacturing in Adelaide, Australia before coming full circle, and finding myself back home at USciences.

Using my experience and expertise in immunology and vaccine design, I designed this course to center around a student-driven social media campaign via Twitter and Buzzfeed, as well as original directed research regarding vaccination attitudes within the healthcare profession. Vaccination is considered one of the top three achievements of humankind in regards to improving human health and I have found that students in my introductory ‘Principles of Immunology’ course find the topic both fascinating and thought-provoking. Indeed, the idea that a person can be exposed to modified microbes, without getting sick, and then potentially acquire lifelong immunity is one of the most amazing and fulfilling aspects of vaccinology.

The course will allow students to explore the data behind the current recommended vaccine schedule, discuss the myriad of government programs that are designed to promote and maintain vaccine safety, and explore their own, as well as their colleague’s attitudes and opinions regarding immunization. I believe that vaccination is a cornerstone of public health, and it is important that our future healthcare providers are versed, not just in the science behind vaccines, but also in the political and societal aspects that can dramatically influence immunization policy.

Throughout the semester, students will be tweeting information and experiences surrounding vaccines (@ModernVaccines) to promote vaccine awareness and confidence. In addition, students will be researching current vaccines to evaluate their history, effectiveness and safety profile and will present their findings to their classmates. Classmates will then be responsible for converting the information from these scientific presentations into fun, engaging, and easily understandable information via interactive Buzzfeed articles – that will then also be shared via Twitter and other social media outlets!

While the social media aspect of the course will foster creativity in communication, students will also be responsible for honing their scientific skills by conducting a class research project regarding vaccine attitudes among healthcare providers. ‘Vaccine hesitancy’ is an active area of research within the field of vaccinology that explores the reasons people might abstain or delay vaccination, and it is generally assumed that healthcare providers do not promote vaccine hesitancy; however, this is not an area that has been widely explored. This means the students in this course will have the opportunity to generate their own hypotheses, test those hypotheses and generate original data—with the ultimate goal that the data can be publishable with the students as co-authors.

Twitter birdSupport our students in this course by following @ModernVaccines on Twitter. 
Also, please feel free to follow me @Dr_Gorski.

11/17/2015

PCP Grads Pursue Residency Programs at the Johns Hopkins Hospital

Ekeoha-ijeomaSoon after Ijeoma Ekeocha PharmD'09 graduated from University of the Sciences in 2009, she followed her dream career as a pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore

During her time as a hospital pharmacist, Dr. Ekeocha became particularly interested in emergency medicine, internal medicine, diabetes management, patient education, and academia. After five years in that role, Dr. Ekeocha recently made the decision to expand her knowledge and education in the field and became a pharmacy practice resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital earlier this year. She plans to continue her training with a second year specialty residency.

Dr. Ekeocha said she is thankful to the hospital’s pharmacy department for providing her with a unique opportunity that will help her achieve her goal of becoming a clinical faculty member at a large academic institution.

Tolan-meghanRecent graduate Meghan E. Tolan PharmD’14 is also wrapping up a two-year health-system pharmacy administration residency at Johns Hopkins. This competitive program also gave her a chance to pursue an MBA in healthcare management at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.

Dr. Tolan’s professional interests, include quality improvement, regulatory affairs, clinical and operational management, transitions of care, academia, and professional pharmacy organizations. She currently serves as the resident member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Commission on Credentialing.

10/20/2015

Daraprim – The Ultimate Drug Pricing Outrage?

Drug priceBy Dr. Daniel A. Hussar, the Remington Professor of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences' Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. He serves as the author and editor of The Pharmacist Activist newsletter from which this editorial was taken.

Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) was initially approved in the United States in 1953 for the treatment of patients with malaria. It was subsequently determined to be of value in the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a relatively uncommon but sometimes fatal parasitic infection for which patients with compromised immune systems (e.g., patients with AIDS) are at greatest risk. Pyrimethamine is a component of the regimen that has been considered to be the most effective treatment for toxoplasmosis.

Pyrimethamine was originally developed and marketed by the Burroughs Wellcome Company (subsequently acquired by the company now known as GlaxoSmithKline). Following expiration of its patent, the product and its trade name Daraprim have been acquired and marketed by several other companies. Generic formulations of the drug have either been unavailable or available on only a limited basis because the drug is used so infrequently that generic companies have not considered it commercially feasible to market. As recently as 5 years ago, the cost of Daraprim was about $1 a tablet. The US marketing rights to the drug in the United States were sold by GlaxoSmithKline in 2010, and the rights to the drug have been sold several additional times during the last five years. In the period preceding August, 2015 Daraprim was marketed by Impax Laboratories at a cost of $13.50 a tablet.

Turing Pharmaceuticals

In August, 2015 Impax sold Daraprim to Turing Pharmaceuticals. Shortly prior to that time Impax discontinued distributing the drug through the traditional pharmacy system and restricted its availability to a controlled distribution system, resulting in only very limited supplies of the drug remaining available in general distribution.

The CEO of Turing is a former hedge fund manager and a former CEO of a small pharmaceutical company (Retrophin), another company that acquired an older infrequently prescribed drug (tiopronin [Thiola] for the prevention of cystine kidney stones) that was not available from other sources, and then markedly increased its price.

Following its purchase of Daraprim in what has been described in commentaries as an "overnight" price increase, Turing raised the price of Daraprim from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet. The company and its CEO initially attempted to justify the price increase by describing it as a great business decision that would be of benefit for all of its stakeholders. The previous price was identified as unprofitable and the drug was portrayed as being so infrequently prescribed that the impact of the price increase would be minuscule. The Turing CEO was quoted as saying, "This isn't the greedy drug company trying to gouge patients, it is us trying to stay in business" (New York Times, September 20).

Outrage!

Daraprim is not the first drug for which the availability of an older drug has been limited/restricted/controlled with a resultant sharp increase in its price. Examples include tiopronin, doxycycline, cycloserine, isoproterenol, repository corticotropin injection (H.P. Acthar Gel), and hydroxyprogesterone caproate (Makena). However, the outrage regarding the Daraprim price increase from patients, health professionals, legislators, Presidential candidates, and the public has been immediate and intense. This response is certainly due, in large part, to the huge amount of the price increase, profit being the single motivation for the increase, and the arrogance of the company and its CEO in attempting to justify the increase. This situation has also occurred during a time period in which numerous concerns have been voiced about the prices of many drugs, including important drugs for chronic hepatitis C infection, cholesterol-regulating drugs with a unique mechanism of action, and many anticancer drugs.

The Daraprim experience has become a "lightning rod" that has galvanized attention to all examples and reasons for which many have concerns about drug prices. It has to be the worst nightmare for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) that represent the interests of the pharmaceutical companies, and are very concerned that their member companies' motives and actions might be considered to be similar to those demonstrated by Turing. BIO issued the following statement in response to the Daraprim situation:


"Turing Pharmaceuticals was a member of BIO for a brief period of time and is currently no longer a member. The company and its leadership do not reflect the commitment to innovation and values that are at the core of BIO's reputation and mission. For that reason, BIO determined, after a review of Turing's membership status, that the company did not meet our eligibility criteria, and we took action to rescind its membership and return its membership dues."

I commend BIO for taking this action. However, an evaluation of "the commitment to innovation and values" of certain other companies is also warranted. Although the price increase and statements from Turing may be the most blatant and arrogant to date, some other companies are also engaged in similar practices that are motivated only by the anticipation of large profits.

The storm of criticism and anger regarding the price increase for Daraprim resulted in an announcement from Turing several days later that it would lower the price although, at the time this is being written, the reduced price had not yet been identified. Turing also attempted to convey a message that the higher price was needed to fund research regarding toxoplasmosis and the development of educational programs and new drugs from which patients would benefit. It also indicated that the medication would be provided to patients with financial need. However, its singular motivation for high profits had already been exposed, and its belated attempt to claim it was interested in patients only further eroded its credibility.

A better outcome

The antitubercular drug cycloserine was developed in the 1950s but is seldom used in current therapy. However, it is of value in the treatment of patients with potentially life-threatening multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that is resistant to conventional antitubercular regimens. Cycloserine capsules have been supplied by The Chao Center, a nonprofit organization that is part of the Purdue Research Foundation, at a cost of $480 for 30 capsules. It recently sold the product to Rodelis Therapeutics. When it was learned that Rodelis planned to increase the price of cycloserine to $10,800 for 30 capsules, Chao requested that the rights to the drug be returned. The two companies agreed that the sale of the drug would be canceled and the rights to the drug were returned to Chao. Although Chao considers it necessary to raise the price to approximately $1,050 for 30 capsules, this is only about one-tenth of the price Rodelis had planned to charge.

Other options

The Daraprim experience represents an abuse of the drug distribution system and undermining of its already fragile financial viability. These situations must not be tolerated. One strategy is to have the company that initially obtained approval for the drug or a generic pharmaceutical company supply the drug at a low profit margin. The situation described above in which cycloserine is supplied by a nonprofit organization is a variation of this approach.

Another option is to have compounding pharmacists obtain the medication and prepare the appropriate dosage forms. Although there are restrictions with respect to pharmacists compounding formulations that are commercially available, this situation needs to be reconsidered and exceptions to the restrictions explored.

Another option is to obtain certain medications from a Canadian pharmacy. I have not been an advocate for US residents obtaining medications from Canada and other countries. However, it is my understanding that pyrimethamine tablets cost between $6 and $7 each from a Canadian pharmacy, compared to $750 that Turing was planning to charge in the US. This difference can't be justified and current restrictions must be reconsidered.

The concerns about the prices for new drugs and other drugs that still have patent protection are complex and beyond the scope of this commentary. However, for older drugs for which the patents have expired, the options identified above should be actively pursued to prevent greedy profiteers from exploiting the drug distribution system by restricting availability and charging astronomical prices. Pharmacists, other health professionals, and patient groups must work with legislators and the Food and Drug Administration to remove restrictions that currently limit the extent to which affordable medications can be provided for patients.

10/05/2015

Lifestyle Factors Could Put College-Age Women at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer, Says USciences Prof

IMercier_250x350Breast cancer prevention needs to become a shared conversation among women of all ages because it can strike at any age and is generally more aggressive when diagnosed in women under the age of 50, said Isabelle Mercier, PhD, a pharmaceutical sciences professor at University of the Sciences. With hopes to spark that discussion, Dr. Mercier compiled some key prevention awareness tips for young women.

“Unfortunately, college-age women generally do not consider themselves at risk for breast cancer,” said Dr. Mercier. “However, there are several risk factors that contribute to the development of breast cancer that need to be understood early in life to prevent the development of breast cancer down the road.”

By the end of 2015, more than 231,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. Of those cases, approximately 40,000 individuals will not survive, said Dr. Mercier. Women in their early 20s need to become aware of some key risk factors associated with breast cancer:

  • Check your family tree. A family history of breast cancer, particularly in a mother or sister, can increase the chance for developing breast cancer. Genetic testing is recommended for young women with prevalence of breast cancer in their families.
  • Watch your weight. Obesity is responsible for up to 20 percent of cancer-associated deaths in women. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer by creating a cancer-friendly environment through fat cells.
  • Exercise regularly. Women who strive for at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity activity – like brisk walking – reduce their risk of breast cancer by 18 percent.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. According to research from Washington University School of Medicine, if a female averages a drink per day, her risk of breast cancer increases by 11 percent. Studies show that alcohol possesses estrogenic activity, thus promoting the growth of breast tumor cells.
  • Annual doc visits. Although mammograms are not recommended for women under the age of 40, young women should still see their primary care doctors each year for clinical breast exams. They are also encouraged to conduct self-examinations throughout the year.
  • Limit tobacco use. Women who smoke have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially if they become smokers early in life. Smokers have increased levels of both estrogen and testosterone that might disrupt the endocrine signaling in women and contribute to the development of these tumors.

An important part of Dr. Mercier's research focuses on cancer prevention. The role of vitamin C intake on breast cancer development, progression, recurrence and response to anti-cancer therapy remains unclear. That’s why Dr. Mercier and her research team at USciences are currently studying the role of dietary supplements on cancer risk, as well as evaluating new biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer. 

Media exposure:

KywOct. 8, 2015
Healthy College Lifestyles Can Help Women Prevent Breast Cancer
Audio1

Breast cancer is rare among college-age women, but lifestyle choices made during those years can be life-saving years later.

09/30/2015

Alum's Pharmacy Nationally Recognized for its Service to Community

HealthMart_Tepper_093015Pharmacy alumnus Craig Lehrman P’89, a second-generation pharmacist who learned the business from his father, was recently honored for consistently providing care and services that add measurable value to patient healthcare and community wellness. His independently-owned Tepper Pharmacy, located in Wynnewood, Pa., is one of 10 pharmacies across the country to receive the Health Mart Community Healthcare Excellence Award.

After graduating from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1989, Lehrman gained most of his pharmacy experience working for others before he achieved his goal of owning a pharmacy in 2011. Over the past four years, Lehrman and his staff have continued to build upon Tepper Pharmacy’s rich 30-year history of delivering personalized care to the community.

“I was interested in the business aspect of pharmacy, but it was my father that guided me into the profession of pharmacy,” he said. “I was looking for a store to buy and even considered opening a new store from scratch, until the perfect opportunity arose to take over Tepper Pharmacy.”

In this new era of chain pharmacies and mail order prescriptions, one of the hallmarks of independent pharmacies, like Tepper, is their ability to understand and cater to the unique needs of their community.

“I want the service that we provide to make us unique,” Lehrman said. “The personal interactions we have with our customers is what makes us stand out and it is an important part of what makes Tepper Pharmacy a successful business.”

Beyond the traditional services most pharmacies offer, Tepper Pharmacy’s staff includes an employee who specializes in fittings for compression stockings and sleeves and is also an expert in durable medical equipment and wound care, a pharmacist who specializes in managing the medications for long-term care facilities in the area, and a pharmacy team that services local dialysis centers.

To help the community stay healthy, Tepper Pharmacy administers vaccinations, offers free delivery anywhere in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and makes every attempt to fill all prescriptions by stocking a large inventory. These specialized and personalized services are just a few examples that exemplify the concern Lehrman and his pharmacy staff have for the community.

The Health Mart Community Healthcare Excellence Award program is a component of the Health Mart Healthy Living Tour, which is on the road to celebrate and recognize community pharmacists for the important role they play as trusted healthcare providers in their communities—helping to educate and counsel on a variety of conditions that can be better managed with the help of a pharmacist.  

“Health Mart pharmacies fill a gap in today’s busy healthcare system by providing broader access to clinical services and medication counseling, and our pharmacists often serve as the first point of care for everyone from new parents to grandparents,” said Chuck Wilson, vice president of Health Mart. “We recognize that issues like diabetes and obesity are serious epidemic affecting millions of Americans, and these 10 pharmacists have proven themselves as go-to resources for those in their community managing these diseases.”

08/19/2015

PCP Students Provide Faith-Based Healthcare to Underserved Philly Residents

SMI_20151Five students from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy collaborated with more than two dozen medical, dental, podiatry, and nursing students from various colleges across Philadelphia during this year’s Summer Medical Institute (SMI) Philadelphia. This three-week health outreach program is sponsored by the Medical Campus Outreach ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and Esperanza Health Center.

“Teams of health professions students helped address the health and spiritual needs of residents in the Kensington and Hunting Park neighborhoods of Philadelphia,” said Daniel Hussar, PhD, Remington Professor of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences. “This unique experience allowed students to learn how to integrate their faith with their responsibilities as health professionals.”

After initial training sessions, Sherilin Joe PharmD’16, Rebecca Shatynski PharmD’16, Julie Varughese PharmD’16, Megan Pellett PharmD’16, and Christina Besada PhSci’17 joined their peers to conduct door-to-door health outreach in teams throughout the neighborhoods—offering diabetes and blood pressure screenings, as well as nutrition and healthy lifestyle education.

Students also lived together in community, and learned first-hand the impact of social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, and economic factors on individuals’ health. Through interaction with clinicians and staff members at Esperanza Health Center, Dr. Hussar said the students were able to observe an effective model of Christian primary healthcare.

Here’s a break-down of the recorded visits and activities completed by the students during SMI:

  • 630 visits to homes were conducted with health screenings provided
  • 787 blood pressure screens
    • 97 new positives for pre-hypertension were identified
    • 117 new positives for hypertension were identified
  • 756 blood sugar screens
    • 68 new positives for diabetes were identified
  • 737 BMI screens
  • 130 dental screens
  • 68 received in-home HIV testing
  • 200 people received asthma education
  • 917 people were prayed with
  • 87 people requested church follow-up

Following the conclusion of SMI, USciences students made follow-up phone calls to individuals with whom visits were made.  They also met with alumnus Neil Pitts P'73, PharmD'04 and visited the Miriam Medical Clinic that he started at Berean Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.

08/12/2015

College-Bound Students: Don’t Forget to Pack These Necessities, Says USciences Prof

Hewitt-3189Thousands of students across Greater Philadelphia will soon start the next chapter of their lives as they begin their college journeys away from home. But with their new freedom comes the exposure to millions of germs while living and studying in close quarters with others, said Stacey Gorski, PhD, assistant professor of biological sciences at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

“Because students share many of the same spaces and items in places such as residence halls and dining areas, many germs can spread quickly and easily,” said Dr. Gorski, who specializes in immunology. “It’s scary when you think about it, but the more you know about their risks, the better you can protect yourself.” 

So as students pack their bags with necessities like clothing, bed linens, accessories, and electronics, Dr. Gorski also encourages them to remember to pack the following items to help minimize their contact to germs:

  • Flip flops for the shower. Communal bathrooms in residence halls—thanks to their generally moist nature—are breeding grounds for germs, such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Shower sandals can help protect students from catching viruses that can cause warts and fungi that commonly cause athlete's foot.
  • Laundry detergent. Students are probably unaware that they are sharing their bed with bacteria, yeast, and other fungi that can lead to skin infections and respiratory issues. Regularly washing bed linens, changing pillows, and showering at night can help reduce the number of germs in a student’s bed. Students should also avoid using their beds as seating areas for guests.
  • Disinfectant wipes. Viruses like the norovirus—commonly associated with gastrointestinal disease on cruise ships, but also a rising cause for concern on college campuses—can live and potentially infect a person for up to 7 days after being deposited on a surface. That’s why it is a good idea to wipe down shared objects, such as eating areas, desks, doorknobs, and keyboards, daily with disinfectant wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer.  Although soap and water works best for killing germs, alcohol-based hand gels can work in a pinch, especially for individuals who use public transportation, or do not have access to a sink for extended periods of time.

On a more serious note, Dr. Gorski also urges college-bound students to consider getting the HPV and influenza vaccinations. Both males and females should receive the three-dose HPV vaccine to protect themselves against preventable cervical, mouth, and throat cancers. She also added that flu shots are the best way to protect students against influenza and possibly missing weeks of class due to the highly-contagious virus. 

MEDIA COVERAGE:

HealthAug. 21, 2015:
Add Germ Fighters to College Packing List

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