30 posts categorized "Pharmaceutical Chemistry"


PCP Student: High Tech Tools for Medication Adherence

Anita Pothen is currently a 6th year pharmacy student at the University of the Sciences-Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. In addition to her interests in medication adherence and writing, Anita's pharmacy-related experiences include working in retail, hospital and government agency settings. - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/author/apothen/#sthash.qLh4jlSX.d

Anita Pothen PharmD'14, published an article in Star Life Sciences Medical Monitor on Sept. 18, 2013, titled, "High Tech Tools for Medication Adherence."

Medication adherence is a topic of interest for healthcare providers, caregivers, and payers — and, of course, patients. Practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, but they don’t always see the expected clinical improvements.

Click here to read the full article...

Medication adherence is a topic of interest for healthcare providers, caregivers, and payers—and, of course, patients. Practitioners work hard to select optimal drug therapy for their patients, but they don’t always see the expected clinical improvements. This inefficacy in treatment often stems from patients’ inability - See more at: http://www.starlifebrands.com/author/apothen/#sthash.qLh4jlSX.dpuf


PCP Student Gains Worldview of Pharmaceutical Industry

SEP group picture

Grace Chun PharmD’16 recently traveled overseas to participate in the International Pharmaceutical Student Federation’s annual World Congress event. Here’s what she had to say:

International Pharmaceutical Student Federation (IPSF) is the only international advocacy group for the student pharmacists. IPSF aims to promote public health through wide range of global networking and initiating global health campaigns, such as World AIDS Day and World Tobacco Day. Along with close collaboration with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, IPSF holds official relations with the World Health Organization, as well. The largest meeting for the IPSF members is the annual World Congress, a conference for the pharmacy students and pharmacists from all around the globe.

This year’s 59th annual World Congress was held in Utrecht, Netherlands, from July 30 to Aug. 9. The experience as a U.S. participant at the conference was truly an asset because I broadened my scope in the pharmacy practice. At the conference, I have participated in the international patient counseling event, attended career exhibitions, and engaged in memorable networking experiences.

The highlight of the World Congress was the international night where the students gathered to express their cultures and customs through dance and delicious pastries. I was able to taste Sake from Japan and amazing chocolates from Belgium. I also learned lovely traditional Sweden dance to exciting “Gangnam Style” dance from Korea.

World Congress does not only comprise of symposiums and general assemblies but consist of true international gathering to embrace each other’s cultures. Only those who attended IPSF World Congress can understand the meaning of international pharmacy experience. It was fortunate for me and Dana Lee to participate in a great experience to represent the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. I wish I could engage more PCP students to engage in international pharmacy, as I was able to broaden my horizon. I was able to see how the government in Denmark works closely with pharmacists to improve healthcare systems, and also experience how Switzerland pharmacists work together with physicians to improve patient-care.

I have come to understand the meaning of “viva la pharmacie” thanks to this conference, and only those who attend the conference will be able to experience this motto to the fullest. As the newly elected Pan-American Regional Office (PARO) Secretary, I will continue to serve IPSF and carry out the motto, “viva la pharmacie!”

Student Exchange Program at PCP: One of the assets of IPSF is the Student Exchange Program, which allows students to explore pharmacy practice in different countries. After careful and objective analysis of each applicant, the member association of IPSF organizes the exchanges by finding the practice sites. The practice sites include community pharmacies, wholesale companies, pharmaceutical industry, government or private health agencies.

PCP is one of the few colleges of pharmacy that can host SEP students in the United States. As of last year, PCP was approved as one of few host sites in the U.S. This year was the second annual student exchange program held at PCP to allow an international student to have a chance to experience what pharmacy means outside his or her country’s practice.

On July 7, Thibault Ali, a student from Strasbourg, France, came to our institution for a month to experience community, compounding, and industry pharmacy experience through our APhA-ASP/IPSF chapter. He began his stay with a tour around USciences and a luncheon with the faculty members.

He was able to experience community pharmacy at Sunray Pharmacy, and compounding pharmacy at The Art of Medicine. Thibault also had an industry experience at Johnson and Johnson and learned about medical information and drug products. He experienced industry rotation with other sixth-year pharmacy students at PCP.

Not only he experienced pharmacy practice, he was exposed to American culture as he visited the Philadelphia Phillies game with Dr. Melody, Shakespeare play with Dr. Earl, and many other Philadelphia’s attractions with fellow IPSF members. This program not only allowed Thibault to gain an insight to pharmacy practice in the U.S., but allowed our chapter to acknowledge new ideas from understanding Thibault’s country’s practice.

Special Acknowledgement: I would like to acknowledge Dr. Hussar for advising and supporting World Congress to allow PCP students to broaden their horizon in the field of pharmacy practice. Also, I sincerely thank Drs. Schwartz, Earl, Melody, Decker, Blustein, as well as all the preceptors, professors, and dedicated IPSF members who gave tremendous support to successfully achieve Student Exchange Program at PCP. 

Someone said, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” The teachers may come in many forms but the professors whom I worked together for IPSF projects were all in a single form: the inspired.


Third Honey Festival a Fun Place for Science

The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild is holding their third annual Honey Festival this weekend.  

The event will take place at three sites in the city of Philadelphia: Friday the Festival starts a Wagner Free Institute of Science, Saturday activities will take place at Wyck House and Bartram Gardens will host the Festival on Sunday.

You can start the weekend with Beekeeping 101.  Of course that’s just the start; there is much to do and to learn at the Festival.  To keep your energy up try some of the delicious foods made with honey. 

Saturday afternoon at Wyck House, a historical site in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, there will be three talks in the afternoon.   The presenters are Deborah Delaney, University of Delaware; Matthew Shoemaker and Sarah Newhouse, Historical Society of Pennsylvania; and Fred Schaefer, University of the Sciences.

For the USciences presentation Fred Schaefer, aka Sherlock "Honey" Holmes, will present some preliminary results from research being performed in collaboration with the Guild.  Co-authors Maria Christina Tettamanzi de Sproviero, Christine Rivera, and Tashnia Babar have used the techniques of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to discern chemical differences in honeys from hives within the city of Philadelphia.

Sunday at Bartram Gardens, in West Philadelphia, there will be presentations by Stephanie Wilson, Morris Arboretum (University of Pennsylvania); Jessica Long, Pennsylvania Honey Queen; Jimmy McMillan, co-owner of Barry’s Home Brew; and Suzanne Matlock, of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild.

The website for the event is:



Tweets, Blogs, Journalism, Scientific Journals, and Press Releases

This afternoon I stopped by the Departmental office to check my mailbox and print a few things on the photocopier. While in the office I overheard a conversation about what should go in a tweet. I do not know the context of the discussion but I was reminded that different modes of communication have different functions.

At home this evening I read the Planet of the Apes blog. There was a post on communication by the press. Discussed was a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.


A superfluous and unsubstantiated point in the paper became a news item. The journalist points out problems in the review process for the scientific journal and problems with how the information was presented to the general public.

Scientists focus on producing new knowledge. Disseminating that knowledge is important and accurate communication is crucial to progress in science. The more ways we have to communicate the more careful we need to be about which one we choose.

An NPR News piece from last week looks at some of the problem these choices can cause in personal communication.



Studying Science in Philadelphia – Part 2

The formal part of an education in the science typically takes place at a college or university.  Philadelphia provides many other opportunities to learn science.  A good education in science extends beyond the classroom. 

In the fall the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild has their Honey Fest.  In 2011 there were Fest events at Wagner Free Institute of Science, Wyck House, and Bartram Gardens.  Last year was also the first year of the Philadelphia Science Festival.  There were a variety of events, some formal, some entertaining, at locations around the city.  You can see highlights from 2011 and follow what is planned for 2012 at


I should be writing more about 2012 events in future posts to this blog. 

 Opportunities to learn science can occur in some unexpected places.  Earth Bread and Brewery in the Mt. Airy section of the city is host to Table Top Science one evening each month.  USciences students fill the evening with entertaining and informative chemistry related activities.  The next show is planned for Tuesday, January 24, 2012.  More information about the venue is available at the website and on Facebook.



Studying Science in Philadelphia – Part 1

Large cities have many benefits.  In Philadelphia we have a newspaper that still has a science writer, Faye Flam, with a very interesting column.  If you do not have a subscription to the Inquirer the column also appears on her blog at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/

The Wednesday, January 4, 2012 blog post analyzed an article by Charles Krauthammer titled “Are We Alone in the Universe”.  I will take this opportunity to add my own analysis.  Although the topic is outside my area of expertise I can make use of my knowledge of basic science to make some comments.

In reflecting on why we have not heard from other planets Krauthammer considers the dangers of the technology a civilization generates and comments on the importance of politics in our survival. Flam sees this later point as a possible “dig at science”.   Possibly Krauthammer is trying to give politicians a pat on the back in this wearying primary season.  I recommend Jared Diamond’s book “Guns Germs and Steel” for its important perspective on the role of the natural world in political and economic dominance. 

In the post a scenario is proposed, Flam writes:

“It’s also possible that we earthlings are among the first technological civilizations in the galaxy.   It took a generation or two of star formation to create all the carbon and other heavy elements. We don’t know how likely it is for intelligent, technological life to emerge, and we don’t know whether 4.5 billion years is relatively fast or slow.”

I will consider two other scenarios, neither is any more valid but in science we do consider alternate analyses of problems.

 First, as a possibly humorous analysis, maybe we are one of the last civilizations to develop technology.  All the more advanced civilizations may have grown tired of space spam and our messages are being quarantined in some extraterrestrial trash bin.

Some points that might be more significant can be made by considering a second scenario in which development on different planets occurs at a very similar pace.  In this case we need to realize that the distance between the planets will play an important role in communication.

If my numbers are correct the recently discovered planet Kepler 22b is about 620 light years away.  Any information we might receive today from possible inhabitants of that planet would be from about 1392 CE - most certainly old news.  If we send a message today it will get to them until about 2632 CE – again most certainly old news when it is received.  The point is that our ability to communicate over long distances is recent enough that our messages may not have reached other worlds and unless some other beings have been broadcasting for quite some time we have not had the opportunity to receive their messages.

For movie fans, I found the old broadcasting signals being bounced back to earth an interesting aspect of the plot development in the 1997 movie “Contact”.

Both the article and the blog post refer to recent developments in science.  Because science is a discipline that is continuously progressing, recent does not mean complete.  It is the incomplete parts that give us much to think about.


Priorities for our Profession - Pharmacy

By Daniel A. Hussar is 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 (http://www.pharmacistactivist.com) from which this editorial was taken.

Choosing the topic for this month's issue of The Pharmacist Activist was more of a challenge than usual. Not because there are not enough important issues to address, but rather because there are so many. Indeed, pharmacy faces so many challenges that identifying the degree of priority with which they should be addressed is an important decision in and of itself. Therefore, the purpose of this editorial is to identify the issues that, in my opinion, require our profession's highest priority attention.

  1. Commitment, passion, and activism
  2. Many pharmacists are apathetic or even negative about pharmacy and their individual responsibilities, and it is no consolation that this situation exists in every profession and area of employment. Tens of thousands of pharmacists are not members of even one professional association. Some would contend that the wide availability of employment opportunities (at least until recently) and high salaries have contributed to the apathy and complacency that is so widespread. Pharmacy has provided a good livelihood for the vast majority of pharmacists and every pharmacist should recognize a responsibility to give something back to our profession. This should be motivated by our enthusiasm for and pride in our profession, and demonstrated through a commitment to and passion for what we represent and can do individually and collectively for our patients and profession. We need thousands more activists within pharmacy. The colleges of pharmacy have an extremely important responsibility in encouraging these attitudes, qualities, and involvement among student pharmacists that will be continued through their professional careers. Our professional organizations must be more innovative and effective in increasing membership and active participation in professional initiatives.

  3. More effective professional organizations
  4. Our profession needs an organizational structure at the national, state/regional, and local levels that will serve and advance the interests of pharmacy in a more effective manner than is being accomplished through our current system (please see the editorial in the January 2011 issue [www.pharmacistactivist.com] for possible national organizational structure options). Leaders of the national pharmacy organizations should meet to actively consider these options in the context of what is best for the profession, and not just what is best for individual organizations. Many state/regional pharmacy organizations are struggling financially and have limited effectiveness. In my opinion, the profession is best served by having one organization of pharmacists in each state, and the leaders of the multiple pharmacy organizations within a state should be encouraged to develop and approve such a structure.

  5. Independent pharmacies must thrive
  6. Notwithstanding the importance of the roles and accomplishments of pharmacists in all areas of professional responsibility, it is the independent pharmacists who are the "face" of our profession with the public and who have the most prominent identity that is responsible for the reputation for trust and integrity that our profession enjoys. It is also the independent pharmacists who are the most likely to have the personal interaction with the largest number of patients who receive the medications and services around which the expanding roles of pharmacists are based. As the number of chain/corporate and mail-order pharmacies has increased in recent years and the number of independent pharmacies has declined, some have predicted the disappearance of independent pharmacies. However, we must not let that happen! A number of years ago I voiced the opinion that the future roles and success of the profession of pharmacy are inextricably linked to the extent that independent pharmacists can be successful in their professional responsibilities. My conviction regarding the validity and importance of this opinion is even stronger today. Our entire profession must be strongly supportive of efforts that will enable independent pharmacies to not only survive, but thrive.

  7. Tightening of the job market
  8. The economic challenges of the last several years coupled with the large increase in the numbers of colleges of pharmacy and pharmacy graduates have resulted in a significant tightening of the employment opportunities for pharmacists and student pharmacists. This situation has many extremely important implications that are as positive as a much larger number of opportunities in which the abilities and skills of pharmacists can be utilized in providing optimal drug therapy for many more patients, and as negative as widespread pharmacist unemployment. We must not be content to sit back and watch how this situation evolves. Our profession must be actively engaged in developing plans and strategies that will result in the assimilation of a much larger number of pharmacists in the provision of more comprehensive services of documented value to an increasingly elderly patient population with greater needs for optimal drug therapy. The alternative would be the worst possible contradiction - a country with millions of people who have a great need for the expertise possessed by pharmacists who can not provide it because of the failure of a healthcare system that does not recognize and pay for that expertise.

  9. "Walking the talk"
  10. As much as many of us extol the expertise of pharmacists and the value of our advice and services, optimal services are not the norm and, indeed, for many, are not evident at all. We must provide to a much greater extent what we claim as the value of our role and responsibilities. We must do much better in providing even the most basic information and services, and develop programs that will provide pharmacists with the information and confidence necessary to extend their services. As a profession we have the potential to assume "ownership" of important challenges such as the prevention of medication/dispensing errors and increasing patient compliance with the instructions for using medications. If pharmacists do not respond to these opportunities that can be viewed as such a natural part of our domain of responsibilities, it will only be a matter of time before other health professionals will.

  11. Prescription benefit programs
  12. The inequitable compensation and conditions of most prescription benefit programs are continuing important concerns for pharmacists. Pharmacists must document the value of their services and the cost of dispensing a prescription so that they are well positioned to demonstrate inequities in programs in which they are asked to participate. Pharmacists should not reduce the scope and quality of their services to try to adjust for the inadequacies of the program but rather should decline to participate in programs in which the compensation or other conditions are not equitable. Notwithstanding the need to avoid specifics of compensation issues because of antitrust implications, the profession should develop a model prescription benefit program that would effectively address the drug therapy needs of patients, and encourage and recognize the value of the information and services provided by pharmacists.

  13. Legislative influence
  14. Pharmacists and our professional associations must have much more extensive and effective communication with our legislators. The geographical distribution of pharmacists provides an excellent opportunity for legislative influence. However, we are not even close to reaching our potential in this regard. In addition to having pharmacy's interests and services considered in new and revised national health insurance legislation (e.g., Obamacare), other issues require the attention of the profession. Examples include legislative changes that would permit pharmacists and our organizations to collectively negotiate for equitable compensation for the services we provide, and changes that would prevent mandated participation of patients in mail-order pharmacy programs.

  15. Taking a stand
  16. The profession of pharmacy, primarily through its professional organizations, must demonstrate the courage to address situations that place patients at risk and/or are potentially damaging to the profession, even if they may be controversial or sensitive. For example, excessively busy and stressful working conditions that increase the risk of dispensing errors must not be tolerated. Employers who persist with policies that place patient safety in jeopardy must be challenged. Likewise, prescription benefit programs that require or provide financial incentives for patients to obtain medications from a mail-order pharmacy and decrease personal communication between patients and pharmacists must be challenged. The continuing establishment of new colleges of pharmacy in the face of a saturated marketplace for pharmacists is another situation that must be questioned.

  17. Developing leaders
  18. The urgent attention that is needed to address the numerous current issues can easily obscure the importance of developing the future leaders for the profession. The identification and development of new leaders is a critical component of plans to position pharmacy for success in the future.
  19. Expanded and new opportunities
  20. At the same time that current challenges demand priority attention, there must be a vision for expanding some existing opportunities and developing new ones. The manner in which some pharmacists have developed practices that focus on compounding prescriptions to meet individualized needs of patients is one such example. Other examples include expanded roles in medication therapy management (MTM) programs, immunization programs, the self-care of patients with nonprescription products, the provision of durable medical equipment products and services, and the provision of specialty pharmaceuticals.


Agreeing with FDA Actions on Acetaminophen

In June 2009 the FDA convened 37 health professionals who serve on three of its advisory committees to address concerns regarding acetaminophen. My editorial in the July 2009 issue of The Pharmacist Activist identifies many of the recommendations of the advisory committees, and also includes my responses/observations. The advisory committee statements are recommendations and do not become policy until the FDA approves them, which it has not done.

Interestingly, the action that the FDA just announced addresses just one component of a much larger picture. The recommendation applies only to prescription products that contain acetaminophen in combination with other medications (almost always a narcotic [also known as an opioid]).  The recommendation does not pertain to nonprescription (OTC) products such as those available under the Tylenol brand name.

I fully agree with the action that the FDA has just taken. At the present time prescription combination products that contain a narcotic and acetaminophen may contain widely varying amounts of acetaminophen (e.g., 325 mg, 500 mg, 650 mg, 750 mg). The narcotic component of the combination is a much more potent pain killer than acetaminophen and is also associated with a greater number of risks.

As a result, many may overlook the inclusion of acetaminophen in the product or not be attentive to its quantity in each tablet or capsule.  This could result in the use of an excessive dosage/quantity of acetaminophen, even when the amount of the narcotic may be appropriate.  The use of excessive amounts of acetaminophen may result in serious liver toxicity and even death.

By limiting the amount of acetaminophen (to 325 mg) that may be included in prescription combination products that also contain a narcotic, the FDA will be providing greater clarity and safety with respect to the use of these products.

Daniel A. Hussar is the Remington Professor of Pharmacy at University of the Sciences' Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.




Unique partnership will promote sustainability training for pharmacists

The issue of pharmaceuticals in the environment is multifaceted—ranging from the excretion of animal and human waste, to improper disposal like flushing, to residues transferred from skin (e.g., sunscreens, ointments).

Pharmacists serving in the role of public health advisor are in a unique position to educate patients and providers on strategies to decrease the amount that gets into the environment. This partnership couples Practice Greenhealth’s known expertise in this area with the knowledge and expertise of the nation’s first college of pharmacy to provide outstanding educational opportunities for pharmacists to learn themselves and how to educate others. 

The partnership is designed to develop educational modules for pharmacists working in community/retail settings, hospital settings and long term care settings. Further, the intent of the partnership is to develop educational programming for students in colleges of pharmacy and public health programs to learn about this important issue.

-- Andrew Peterson is dean of Mayes College of Healthcare Business and Policy


Research Day Showcases Faculty and Student Research

090402_research_day_300 From metabolic engineering to computational chemistry and from structural prediction of proteins to rational design of new therapeutics, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits on campus during its 7th Annual Research Day starting on Thursday, April 2, 2009. Posters representing approximately 120 topics were on display.

Research Day recognizes undergraduate and graduate student research efforts, and highlights aspects of faculty scholarly activity to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among investigators. The University is distinctive in that most undergraduate students conduct research with faculty early in their academic careers.

The diverse research activity on display spans several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:

• Biological Sciences: Dr. Jennifer Anthony’s research involving the metabolic engineering of E. coli for the production of vitamin A.
  • Chemistry: Dr. Randy Zauhar’s use of computer-aided drug design to identify new antimicrobial lead compounds.
• Pharmaceutical Sciences: Dr. Bin Chen’s evaluation of the effects of vascular-targeting photodynamic therapy on prostate cancer metastasis.
• Physical Therapy: Dr. Therese Johnston’s usage of treadmill training for children with cerebral palsy.
• Social Sciences: Psychology major Mark Paullin’s (Philadelphia, Pa.) study of mild cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.
• Health Policy: Master in public health major Sekinat Kekere-Ekun’s (Deptford, N.J.) work on the descriptive epidemiology of viral hepatitis in methadone maintenance clients.
• Pharmacy Practice: Doctor of pharmacy students Neha Patel (Fairless Hills, Pa.), Puja Patel (Hillsborough, N.J.), and Isha Shah’s (Bensalem, Pa.) analysis of the usage of ondansetron in non-chemotherapy patients at a community teaching hospital.

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