« November 2016 | Main | March 2017 »

2 posts from December 2016


More Faculty, Staff, and Student Achievements

Dan Hussar and P4 student Melissa White are coauthors of an article, "New Drugs:  Insulin degludec, Lixisenatide, and Patiromer sorbitex calcium," that has been published in the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.  Dan spoke on the topic, "New Drug Update 2016," at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists in Dallas on November 6 and in a Grand Rounds presentation at Chambersburg Hospital on November 18.  On November 20, he spoke with members of the Delaware County Pharmacists Association on the topic, "The Future of Our Profession."

Islam Ghazi recently published two articles. “Physical compatibility of tedizolid phosphate with selected i.v. drugs during simulated Y-site administration” was published in  the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy and “Treatment of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa with ceftolozane/tazobactam in a critically ill patient receiving continuous venovenous haemodiafiltration” was published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.

Zein Al-Atrache PhD’17 gave a talk at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego on November 12th 2016 entitled “Expression of Amyloidogenic Secretases Implicated in Neurodegeneration is Altered in Astrocytes Following Infection with Chlamydia Pneumoniae.” Al-Atrache also presented a poster at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in July 24th of 2016. 

Several USciences students contributed paper sessions for the Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey Section of the Mathematical Association of America on November 12, 2016.

The presentations are as follows:

Mia Vega, Alyse Parker and Oberon Wackwitz presented on Fibonacci Sequences.

Stephen Seach, Patrick Reagan and Ryan D'Elia presented on The Influence of Artificial Intelligence on Chess.

Aaron Hogan, Colleen Walsh and Rebecca Colandrea presented on The Rubik's Cube.

Oleg Davydovich, Joey Harmon and Bryan Figula presented on the Mathematics of Autonomous Cars

And Ashley Cai, Nhu Truong and Judy Fang presented about Fractals.

Doctor of Pharmacy students from University of the Sciences – Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) attended the 146th Annual Meeting & Convention of the New Jersey Pharmacists Association at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  A full-day of student events were planned for Saturday, October 29th, 2016.  The PCP team came in second place in the Self-Care Competition. 

The team represented PCP in the NASPA-NMA Student Pharmacist Self-care Championship. The student competition team members were: Monica Nguyen, PharmD 2010, P1 and NJPhA student leader; Kaitlyn Harper, PharmD 2017 – P4; Aakash Gandhi, PharmD 2017 – P4, Chris Dorian, PharmD 2018- P3; Nicholas Inverso, PharmD 2017 – P4.  The competition is endowed by Procter & Gamble.  A number of student posters were presented including PCP student, Aakash Gandhi – P4, who presented “Systematic Review: Evaluating cognitive and behavior factors affecting medication adherence.”

Several USciences members were involved in the programming.  Kim Bryant, Director of the USciences Career centered delivered the session on interviewing skills.  A number of volunteers led round-table discussions, including Grace Earl, PharmD, Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy.  Dr. Earl also served as a judge in the Self-Care Competition.  Steve Zlotnic, PharmD, delivered a presentation on Biosimilars 2.0, and is an adjunct clinical professor at PCP.

Alumni from the University of the Sciences – Philadelphia College of Pharmacy were presented with awards at the convention awards ceremony.  PCP alumnus, Lt. Col. Stephen A. Brickman, RPh, Class of 1963, received the “Bowl of Hygeia Award” for an outstanding record of community service.  Stephen was also spotlighted in The New Jersey Journal of Pharmacy in the Community Pharmacist Spotlight (Fall 2015 available at http://njpharmacists.org/resources/journal).  He has been involved in disaster management in the New Jersey as a member of the Disaster Medical Assistance team.  Another alumnae member, Kristine N Cigna, PharmD, CCP, Class of 2010, received the “Pharmacist Mutual Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award.” Kristine is employed by the VNA Health Group (Visiting Nurse Association) in New Jersey.

For more information for future events, please check the website njpharmacist.org

On Thursday, December 1st, students packed into the ARC Rec Gym to speak with several organizations recruiting work-study students at the Work-study Job Fair for off campus positions. Students who qualify for work-study have the opportunity to work at places such as the VA Medical Center and be compensated $11/hr for their time! Organizations in attendance included MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), The Food Trust, Mitchell Elementary School, and many more. Co-sponsors for the event, Alpha Delta Theta and Sigma Phi Zeta, provided stockings to be decorated, filled, and donated to the children of St. Christopher’s Hospital!

If you are interested in work-study, but aren’t sure if you qualify, contact financial aid to find out! If you would like to know more about work-study and the types of positions available, contact Melissa Satchell (m.satchell@usciences.edu).

Grace Earl passed the Board of Pharmacy Specialties examination and is now a Board Certified - Ambulatory Care Pharmacist.

Rachel Boardman and Bailey Colvin, P3 students, within the Longitudinal IPPE program with Cooper Rowan have had their oral presentation submission accepted from the Society of Student-Run Free Clinics Annual Conference in February held Anaheim, Ca. A total of six CMSRU students will also be attending and presenting at this conference a total of 3 oral presentation and 1 poster presentation (see details below). 

A general summary of what they're presenting:

1) Oral Presentation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Navigating Pharmaceutical Assistance Programs: Rachel Boardman, Gabriela Contino, Bailey Colvin, Amanda Malik

2) Oral Presentation: The Utility of Cultural Advocates to Address Common Health Care Barriers Encountered by LEP Patients: Gabrielle Hassinger

3) Poster Presentation: Identifying and Addressing the Social Determinants of Health in an Urban Student-Run Free Clinic: Gabriela Contino and Kristina Moller

4) Oral Presentation: Benefits of Incorporating Student-Run Free Clinics into the Required Medical School Curriculum: Gabriela Contino, Timothy Crisci,  Gabrielle Hassinger, Amanda Malik, Saba Qadir

First Alternate for a Workshop: Students as Advocates: Approaches to Addressing the Patient as a Whole: Gabriela Contino, Timothy Crisci, Gabrielle Hassinger, Amanda Malik, Saba Qadir


The U.S. Surgeon General "Facing Addiction" report challenges myths, offers transforming vision

Economics Infographic Twitter-506x253
Facing Addiction Cover Twitter 506x253
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has released a landmark public health report with a vision for transforming our behavioral health system so that we can adequately treat substance use disorders in America. Coming in the midst of an unprecedented opioid overdose epidemic, the document spells out why federal officials have shifted their approach on drug control policy to a public health approach.

Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health was released on Nov. 17, 2016 with fanfare, during a live-streamed broadcast from the Paramount Studios in California, featuring health agency officials, celebrity speakers, recovery community members, and a question and answer session with researchers (recording available on youtube).

At over 400 pages, the report provides a comprehensive review of the medical literature, makes recommendations, and notes gaps in our knowledge that need to be addressed with more research. Kana Enomoto, Principle Deputy Administrator of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services agency, was the report editor. Facing Addiction in America states that:

  • A public health approach to the issue of addiction requires that we integrate substance use disorder services into the “mainstream” health system, a major change after decades of a segregated system of care.
  • The common belief “that alcohol and drug problems are the product of faulty character or willful rejection of social norms” is wrong, and results in damaging stigma that inhibits people from getting help.
  • Addiction is a medical disorder, a disease of the brain, that can be successfully treated with a comprehensive approach, just like many other chronic medical conditions.
  • Prejudice and discrimination have created many of the challenges currently plaguing the substance use disorder treatment field, and nothing short of a culture change will have to happen to transform the system. 
  • 1 in 7 people will misuse alcohol and other drugs, and more than 20 million people in the U.S. have a substance use disorder, yet only 1 in 10 are getting treatment. 
  • 78 people die every day in the U.S. from an opioid overdose, and those numbers have nearly quadrupled since 1999. 
  • About 25 million people are in successful recovery. Research indicates that approximately 50 percent of adults who once met diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder are now in stable remission (1 year or longer). Even so, remission from a substance use disorder can take several years and multiple episodes of treatment, along with recovery support services, and/or mutual aid (participation in 12 step-type groups).

Health policy experts, the media, and Dr Murthy himself are making comparisons between this report, and a previous milestone in public health, the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, released by Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry. That groundbreaking  effort was the first federal government report to connect smoking with lung cancer, heart disease, and other detrimental health effects, at a time when years of tobacco marketing had positioned smoking as a safe, socially attractive, and even healthful. It spearheaded 50 years of tobacco control efforts that have positively improved the public health.

Dr Murthy and the other healthcare leaders emphasized in the Nov.17th summit that better screening, and earlier intervention can save lives:

 “…many people seek or are referred to SU treatment only after a crisis, such as an overdose, or through involvement with the criminal justice system. With any other health condition like heart disease, detecting problems and offering treatment only after a crisis is not considered good medicine. Integrating screening into general medical settings will make it easier to identify those in need of treatment and engage them in the appropriate level of care before a crisis occurs.”

Like hypertension or diabetes, substance disorders can and should be addressed before they reach the crisis stage. The widely held stereotype that people need to “hit bottom” before they can begin effective treatment is wrong and dangerous.

The Facing Addiction report is broken into sections that can be downloaded individually, including an executive summary, fact sheets and key findings, plus many supplemental materials. A printed copy of the full report can be ordered for free.

More key points:

  • Adolescent misuse is a risk factor for developing a severe use disorder, underscoring the need for prevention efforts, as well as early treatment.
  • Changes in specific brain circuits impact decision making, self-control, and other aspects of brain function in ways that are persistent and long-lasting, after prolonged substance use.
  • The brain can also take a long time to return to health, one reason why relapses are expected in substance disorders. Research in alcohol and other drug use shows it will be 4-5 years before the risk of relapse drops below 15%.
  • The medical consequences of substance misuse include cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary diseases, liver and pancreatic diseases, stroke, and cancers of the larynx, liver, and colon.
  • Studies show that every dollar spent on substance use disorder treatment saves $4 in health care costs.
  • Most existing substance use disorder treatment programs lack the needed training, staffing and infrastructure to provide treatment for co-occurring physical and mental illnesses.

To accomplish this behavioral healthcare transformation, the report notes that the treatment, prevention, and research sectors need appropriate funding. The legislature did not take action last year to fully fund the Obama administration’s requested $1 billion, but the “21st Century Cures Act” that just passed this week and is waiting for President Obama's signature, includes substantial new commitments towards the original funding goal.

The future of addiction health policy

Has our leadership been slow to address the widely held myths about addiction in America, the disparities in access to behavioral health care, and the need for systemic change? This new report is based on more than two decades of research which is “far more than we knew about the effects of smoking when the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health was released in 1964.

A decade ago, in 2005, an expert panel convened by the Institute of Medicine called our behavioral healthcare system a "quality chasm" and recommended many of the same policies found in Facing Addiction in America. Still the new Surgeon General's report is intended to be the most prominent, and public effort to date to combat stigma with science, and refute the misconceptions about addiction that are deeply embedded in our culture. 

Public policy efforts to update our approach to substance disorder treatment include the 2000 passage of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA), which changed the Controlled Substances Act to allow physicians to treat opioid use disorder treatment with medications like buprenorphine in medical offices, rather than only in segregated clinics. However, this hasn't increased access to opioid use disorder as much as needed to meet the current demand.  

The Facing Addiction in America recommendations align with federal efforts under the Office of National Drug Control's public health-focused 2010 strategy to increase access to medication treatments, behavioral therapies, and recovery supports for substance use disorders. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Mental Health Education and Parity Act of 2008 were significant legislative efforts to reduce inequities in behavioral health care access, although they haven't yet been fully implemented.

Dr Murthy headlined this 2016 report release with the vivid statement that “how we respond to this crisis is a test for America.”  This report is one of several initiatives at the end of the Obama administration that close out a period of major change in healthcare policy, but lead into an uncertain future.

With an incoming administration that has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, credited for expanding access to substance disorder treatment for 60 million Americans, the future of these new policy recommendations and whether we can address the public health epidemic we are in today will be a test for our new leadership.

Notes on Language

Like many medical conditions, how we describe addictive disorders has changed over time. The last version of the behavioral health diagnostic manual (DSM V) changed the previous categories of substance “dependence” and “abuse” to a diagnosis of substance “use disorders” that exist on a continuum from mild to severe.  Substances refers both to alcohol and other drugs. Addiction medicine no longer uses the terms “chemical dependency" or alcohol or drug "dependence". 

Substance misuse is the use of any substance in a manner, situation, amount, or frequency that can cause harm to users or to those around them.

A substance use disorder is when prolonged, repeated misuse of a substance leads to a medical illness that impairs health and function.

Addiction is the commonly used term for a severe and chronic substance use disorder.




My Photo

© 2011 University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South 43rd Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104 • 215.596.8800