The Epsilon Gamma chapter of Kappa Psi held its annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center in Pomona, California on May 5, 2018. The evening started with a reception, followed by, dinner, a video, awards ceremony, the recognition of the graduating seniors and the installation of new officers. The evening concluded with a Photo Booth and dancing. Congratulations to the graduating Kappa Psi WesternU Class of 2018.
On May 2, 2018, Dr. Elinore Chung, Associate Director at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals gave a presentation to the Noon Elective Seminar class on her experiences in the pharmaceutical industry. A couple of reflections by students in the class are posted below:
Kristine Tran, PharmD Candidate
Today, Dr. Elinore Chung was the guest speaker and the topic was drug development and medical affairs. Dr. Chung currently works in clinical development at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. I learned a lot about the different phases of drug development. Drug discovery can occur between two to five years. Interestingly, we can discover monoclonal antibodies in eight months. The first stage of drug development and it is known as preclinical phase. Phase 1 is where we test healthy volunteers and safety is the major priority. Phases 2-4, on the other hand, are important for efficacy. FDA considers phase III, which confirms efficacy and it is a larger scale than phase 2. I learned that it takes 1 billion dollars and 10 years to bring a new drug to the market. Overall, I thought this seminar was very interesting because I was able to learn a lot about the process of drug development.
Heather Nguyen, PharmD Candidate
Dr. Elinore Chung’s seminar on Drug Development & Medical Affairs was very informative, and I was able to learn the whole process through her presentation. The whole drug development process may take up to 10-15 years to get a drug approved. Discovery of the drug and drug design may occur within 3-5 years, while the clinical trials (phases 1-4) may take 2-10 years. However, Dr. Chung says she rarely sees any drugs that are developed within 2 years and that is a bit aggressive. She goes over each of the phases in drug development and informs us that each phase focuses of safety. Efficacy is monitored and more volunteers are recruited after Phase I of drug development. She stresses the important of phase 4 clinical studies as it is the phase that catches any safety concerns that were not monitored or caught in the previous phases. She also talks about MSLs, also known as Medical Science Liason, and they are involved once the drug goes through approval. MSL is involved in delivering scientific presentations, competitive intelligence gathering, medical publications, training or supporting sales forces, etc. She works in the MSL and informs us about the positives and challenges of her occupation. One of the challenges is that MSLs are under a lot of regulation and under a lot of pressure.
The 2018 Ray Symposium, "Communicating Science Effectively" was presented by Alan I. Leshner, PhD, the CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and CEO-Emeriturs of the journal Science. The informative and entertaining lecture described the difficulty scientists have in communicating science to the general public as well as to politicians. He states education is not enough. He argues that there must be a dialogue not a monologue when communicating with the public. A reception followed with great food, drinks and dessert.
The Ray Symposium honors Max D. Ray, PharmD, Dean Emeritus of the WesternU College of Pharmacy.
The sponsors for this years symposium were blue of California, CPhA, Ralphs and Ray Yutani, DO, MS, PharmD, FACOFP.
Many WesternU students, alumni, faculty and preceptors visited the exhibit booth and reconnected to each other and the college. Our students then participated in the Quiz Bowl competition involving students from the 13 California pharmacy schools. Topics included immunizations, infectious diseases and a host of other clinical and nonclinical topics. WesternU students started a bit slowly but steadily moved up the leader board to finish a strong second out of 13 schools. The competition was won by West Coast University. In evening, the WesternU College of Pharmacy hosted a Dessert Reception at the Marriott Marquis and Marina Hotel. Check out the beautiful bounty of desserts and refreshments in the photos in the link below:
Friday the 13th was a lucky day for the WesternU College of Pharmacy at the Awards Ceremony as part of the CPhA Western Pharmacy Exchange at the San Diego Convention Center. Dean Daniel Robinson was inducted into the California Pharmacy Hall of Fame, our law professor, Tony Park received the Excellence in Innovation Award and the WesternU CPhA-ASP Chapter was recognized as one of the Chapters of Excellence.
The WesternU College of Pharmacy is the only pharmacy school represented in the exhibit hall. The exhibit is staffed by faculty and staff who greet and connect with students, alumni, preceptors and donors. The exhibit allows our Office of Experiential Education staff to meet current preceptors and recruit new preceptors and sites for future rotations. Our Office of Continuing Education is able to market our upcoming courses in Physical Assessment, Nonsterile and Sterile Compounding and our Immunization. We also meet with other exhibitors, alumni and other pharmacists who are current and future donors to the University. We also use the booth to help our alumni either find jobs for those looking for jobs or qualified employees for alumni who have jobs to fill.
Over 30 WesternU student pharmacists are attending the meeting and presenting posters, participating in educational events and networking with other students and pharmacists.
Ruth Smarinsky, PharmD from Direct Relief gave an excellent presentation to the Noon Elective Seminar course on her role in providing medications and supplies to 50 states in the US and to most of the rest of the world. Dr Smarinsky was a student of mine at UCSF and a pharmacy resident at UCI Medical Center. A couple of reflections by students are posted below:
Reflection #1: Emily Ortner, PharmD Candidate
In this week’s presentation, Dr. Smarinsky presented on the topic of providing medical relief to developing countries and countries more prone to disasters. Part of the privately funded organization is their non-profit wholesaler that provides medications to all 50 states and outside countries. Most of the countries they ship to mandate at least a year left in expiration of the medications to accept them, so the countries don’t have to dispose of copious amounts of donated medications. They have partners in 86 different countries and are the largest provider of charitable medications in the US. This presentation can be used in a student pharmacist’s career because it is important to help other countries that need medical care and don’t have access to it. I’ve been looking for an organization to go abroad with to have an experience providing medical care to others and this could be the organization to do that.
Reflection #2: Suzanne Kocharyan, PharmD Candidate
Dr. Ruth Smarinsky is a representative of Direct Relief which is a non-profit organization for helping sick and underserved people around the world and is the largest provider of charitable medicines in the United States. Dr. Smarinsky’s organization has served 86 countries, with the United States for being the most assisted. Direct relief also supports approximately 1,652 healthcare facilities within these 86 countries. This organization has come up with a product line of different sized kits, with different medications; for example, the smallest kit, which is primarily for low-income families, comes with 360 prenatal tablets that will serve through a women’s pregnancy and lactation period. Currently, this organization is looking to keep people from impacting the healthcare field; they carry a wide range of medications for conditions as seizures, hypertension, and diabetes. In cases of disaster, they prepared a pre-positioned emergency kit that will help 100 injured/hurt people for approximately 3-5 days until help is able to reach. This career path for pharmacists is very rewarding, especially when you get to help people in times of need that were out of their control.
On April 7, 2018, I was blessed to be the honoree at the 12th Annual East West Scholarship Dinner at the San Gabriel Hilton and receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. As I transition into retirement, I reflect back on a very satisfying 48 year career in pharmacy education and practice at UCSF and WesternU and the many students, residents, faculty, pharmacists and other health professionals that I have been fortunate enough to work with. I truly enjoyed teaching as well as working through the pharmacy associations (CSHP, ASHP, CPhA, VPhA and many others) to improve pharmacy practice. I especially want to thank my colleagues at UCSF and WesternU and my family for their wonderful friendship and love.
Melinda Mah Memorial Scholarship
Melinda Mah, PharmD 2010, passed away in September, 2017. She was diagnosed with cancer while in pharmacy school and I remember her coming to class dragging an IV pole behind her. She courageously pursued her dream to become a pharmacist despite her illness. After graduation, she was an owner of the aptly named Hope Pharmacy in Calexico, California with her sister Jadine Mah. Dr. Eugene Chan and her husband and I sponsor this scholarship in her memory. The recipient this year is Marvin Ortiz, PharmD Candidate 2018. He is also an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and works with Harbor UCLA Medical residents to provide preventive care to patients in Mexico. He also served as the eloquent spokesperson for the students receiving scholarships during the evening.
I also want to thank my friends and family for contributing photos of the event and to Bacon Sakatani for his great photos.
This study was conducted between the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, by a team of doctors and pharmacists in Los Angeles, California. Non-Hispanic Black men have been reported to battle with uncontrolled hypertension. The purpose of this study was to determine if approaching hypertension management through the barbershops these patients patronize, will improve treatment outcomes. This was a randomized controlled trial involving clusters. A number of barbershops were selected and each of them was designated as a cluster. Each cluster had a number of participants who met the inclusive criteria of the trial; the primary criterion is that the participant has to be a man. A little over 300 men were involved in the study. All the clusters were randomized and put into two groups the control and the intervention group. In both cases, the barbers were trained to provide education and especially in the intervention group, the barbers took blood pressure reading as well. In the intervention group, they had two pharmacists trained to provide clinical care in hypertension. The study was conducted for six months and published in the spring of 2018 on the New England Journal of Medicine website. The participants in the intervention group received consistent treatment for their hypertension from the pharmacists while those in the control group did not. After the article was appraised, it was noted that follow up, equal treatment and intention to treat analysis was not completely done. There was no blinding because the authors of the study made it clear that it was an open label study.
At the end of the study, the intervention group had a 27-point blood pressure reduction and the control group had a 9-point blood pressure reduction. This study provides an interesting perspective on the role pharmacists can play in reaching out to patients in different populations by adjusting their treatment location or setting.
In the presentation, we learn that the healthcare system of the USA gives below average outcomes compared to other developed countries even after spending more on healthcare. The price of prescription drug also adds to the healthcare expenditure. The price of prescription drugs has increased by 208% from 2008 to 2016 on an average. Also, the price of price of prescription drugs goes higher due to profit taking done by multiple drug distribution channels. PBMs and manufacturers try different tactics such as not disclosing their contracts, not passing rebates to consumers and underpay pharmacies. Also, prescription drug manufacturers try to cease the launch of generic drugs by suppressing generic drug manufacturers. To reduce the skyrocketing drug prices, government should pass strict reform. Government should also pass transparency bill to mandate disclosure of contracts between insurers, PBMs and manufacturers. They should also pass law to negotiate drug prices for Medicare part D. Consumers should also be proactive in finding ways to save on drugs by learning about their health plans, formulary and shopping around for drugs. The price of prescription drugs is becoming a burden for American economy and government agencies, consumers and all drug distribution channels will have to come together to solve it without stopping the innovation engine.
The world of pharmacy is a growing and changing profession, with many areas untapped and waiting for pharmacist involvement. One of these areas that only a few have tapped into is the specialty of Sports Medicine. This can range from a number of different roles for pharmacist. One such role can serve as a compounding pharmacist that can specialize in creating medications for athletes so that it targets a specific area and is not absorbed systemically to the point where it would be considered doping. This is another aspect of Sports Medicine Pharmacy that a pharmacist may partake in, drug testing. With many athletes these day trying to get the edge on their competition, they are doping, or using banned substances to give them an edge. One such example is the use of albuterol for exercise induced asthma. Keep in mind that these athletes may or may not have legitimate asthma, but the use of a bronchodilator can enhance a players performance and may allow them to run farther, or swim underwater longer. Now given this, the pharmacist can work with team physicians and trainers and make sure any supplements that athletes take don't contain anything on their sport's banned list. One of the many issues for a pharmacist in this position is that different organizations (NCAA, NBA, Olympic), all have different banned lists so it's pertinent to stay up to date and be able to use the right resources to determine if a substance may get an athlete banned. We can even purchase drug tests for the teams to ensure all players are honest and on the same page. And with these drug tests we can also figure out if athletes are testing positive but aren't taking anything. This problem stems from over the counter medication use. Ibuprofen, a common OTC medication for pain and inflammation used by many athletes, can show up as a POSITIVE result on a cannabis assay. As a pharmacist it is important that we keep our patients, athletes, in special consideration to make sure they aren't taking something that could get them in trouble. There is a need for a pharmacist on the team, to keep a checks and balances on physicians as well as maintain the spirit of the sport and keep all players on an equal playing field in addition to making sure our athletes stay healthy and don't obtain any false positive drug tests. It's time to put the pharmacist in the clean-up pitcher slot and specialize in sports pharmacy care.