Pharmacists in action, January 2014

What Pharmacists Are Doing Across the Country

2014: New year, new horizons ... new status?

2013 was an important year for pharmacists and pharmacy. APhA, in collaboration with many partnering organizations, made great strides in raising awareness about consumer needs for pharmacists’ services, and our ability and capacity for providing those services. Indeed, we’re gaining a strong foothold in the effort to achieve provider status for pharmacists. As 2014 dawns, we are totally focused on promoting pharmacists as valued members of health care teams.

When it comes to achieving provider status, one of our biggest challenges is to demonstrate to consumers and other health professionals that pharmacists’ services have grown well beyond dispensing and drug-distribution responsibilities. Last month, the pharmacists of America made their voice heard on Capitol Hill by letting Congress know that pharmacists are ready to perform as providers of patient care services. While the proposed amendment to the Sustainable Growth Rate bill was not introduced or approved, we can officially say that the topic of provider status for pharmacists is being discussed in the Senate. It will likely take a prolonged effort, and I assure you that pharmacists and APhA are here for the long haul! Game on!

In addition to the quest for provider status, APhA and other organizations are channeling our energy into developing a standard patient care process that places our caregiving in context with other health professions in an easy-to-understand way. Importantly, medicine and nursing have such standard processes that every school of nursing and medicine teach. Pharmacy has been lacking in this area, but we’re poised to fix that. The initiative encompasses a contemporary and comprehensive approach to patient-centered care delivered in collaboration with other members of the health care team. It is our hope that defining pharmacists’ roles and adopting a care process for the profession will make it easier for patients, pharmacists, and other health professionals to understand where and how pharmacists fit in to health care. 

We are also working with the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP) to develop a vision statement to further define the future of pharmacy practice and outline a plan to move the profession forward toward that vision. The following JCPP Vision for Pharmacy Practice statement was drafted and distributed to all member organizations: “Patients achieve optimal health and medication outcomes with pharmacists as essential and accountable providers within patient-centered, team-based health care.” APhA’s Board of Trustees has approved it, and others are doing the same as their boards meet.

Finally, I wanted to reassure you that pharmacists’ efforts are being noticed. I have seen a dramatic rise in the volume of articles outside of the pharmacy profession that describe pharmacists’ positive effects on care.

I’m excited to ring in 2014 on a high note. Let’s all keep up the good work for our profession and our patients!

Thomas E. MenighanBSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), Executive Vice President and CEO

“The challenge is not whether we shall see a world without measles, but when.”

Samuel L. Katz, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Duke University, in a CDC press release about the global measles threat. On an average day, 430 children (18 every hour) die of measles worldwide.


Media vibe

APhA External Communications and Media Advisors answered 15 media inquiries during the month of November, including:

  • Pharmacists’ Letter: Medication adherence
  • American Veterinary Medical Association newsletter: Indirect effects of H.R. 3204 on compounding for veterinary medicine
  • Everyday Health: Effective remedies for colds and sore throats 
  • CQ Healthbeat: White House meeting on exchanges

PSPC 6.0: New team tracks and leadership structure

The Patient Safety & Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative (PSPC) launched its sixth collaborative year this past November with a record number of community-based teams. A national breakthrough effort to transform the delivery of health care services to effectively address patient safety and incorporate medication management services for high-risk patient populations, PSPC 6.0 has nearly 450 teams of community health care providers, along with more than 1,000 partnering organizations. PSPC has a partnership with CMS to bring the expertise and support of state quality improvement organizations (QIOs) to assist community teams with their transformation. Forty-five QIOs partner with almost 300 teams. 

Kick-off webinar

Teams began the sixth collaborative year attending one of two prework events. The first event was an “initial team track” webinar to welcome new teams to PSPC and to touch base with teams that participated in previous years. During this webinar, teams were introduced to new resources for 6.0 including the change package, a reference of leading practice sites that successfully have improved their health care delivery system for patient care in five strategic areas: leadership commitment, measurable improvement, integrated care delivery, safe medication use systems, and patient-centered care.

Proven track record

An “advanced team track” webinar welcomed teams continuing with PSPC. These teams have been confirmed as already having made proven, significant transformations to their delivery system and are now preparing to scale and spread their services within their community and statewide. This webinar event reviewed efforts initiated during the previous collaborative year and discussed the strategic agenda for the new collaborative year.

Advanced PSPC teams serve as transformational leaders spearheading the spread and sustainability of the PSPC improvement model. During the webinar, teams were asked to share and prioritize their goals and vision for the upcoming year, as well as commit to developing new resources, including an advanced team change package that will serve as a resource for teams in this transformational stage. 

Two tracks

PSPC will continue to offer two tracks throughout the sixth year to meet the varying needs of all teams and ensure they have the tools and resources to continue this critical work to improve the health and safety for patients. Teams who begin with the initial track and progress quickly are invited to transition to the advanced team track at any point during the year.

 PSPC has rolling enrollment throughout the collaborative year and is always welcoming and encouraging new teams to join.  For more information about joining PSPC 6.0, please visit 

Taking AIMM

A new level of support and leadership for PSPC was also announced in 6.0. The Alliance for Medication Management (AIMM), a nonprofit organization working to expand, extend, and accelerate the work of PSPC, leads the sixth collaborative year. AIMM also provides a national platform through to feature and highlight teams and performance outcomes in order to garner broader support for the collaborative. 

Also new for 6.0 is funding from CMS and the Improving Individual Patient Care National Coordinating Center. APhA is providing an increased level of leadership, management, and support for PSPC this sixth year. 

The new PSPC leadership team is committed to the work of this collaborative, working closely with the PSPC management and faculty to ensure the same high-quality programming and guidance from faculty experts that has been a critical success factor for previous collaborative years. 

Cindy Schaller, contributing writer

A Minute With

Marissa Salvo, PharmD, BCACP
Assistant Clinical Professor
University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, CT

APhA member since 2005

I first became interested in being a pharmacist ... during my junior year of high school when my father, who is a school counselor, shared with me a book describing the variety of career paths available to pharmacists. I shadowed a local community pharmacist who further explained the profession, its history, and the pharmacist’s role in patient care. This experience, along with my parents’ support, solidified my interest in pursuing a career as a pharmacist. 

My most memorable APhA experience ... is serving as a new practitioner mentor. Over the past few years, I had the opportunity to interact with so many fantastic students! The students display dedication to and enthusiasm for the profession through their on- and off-campus outreach activities.

The advice I give to pharmacists who want to follow my career path ... is to follow your heart and pursue your true pharmacy-related interests. Although it sometimes may not be particularly easy or fun, it will always be rewarding!

If I weren’t a pharmacist, I’d be a ... wedding planner! Similar to pharmacists, a lot of attention is given to details, and there is the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people!

Social Media 101: Facebook

In the December issue of Pharmacy Today, we listed the various APhA social media sites. For the next 4 months, we’ll feature the most popular social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest—in more detail.


Facebook is currently the most popular social media site. Worldwide, there are more than 1.19 billion active Facebook users, and 728 million people log onto Facebook daily. In addition, 874 million people access Facebook via a mobile device. About 30% of users are between the ages of 25 and 34 years, and the platform is becoming increasingly popular with older people (and less popular with teens). 

Facebook users have their own personalized page, and “friend” (used as a verb, meaning “mutually connect with”) their friends, family, and colleagues. Most companies and organizations have Facebook pages, and connecting with those you are interested in is a great way to get information. All you have to do is “like” their page, and you can view all the updates that the company or organization posts.

 “Like” us 

What happens if you “like” one of APhA’s pages? The APhA Facebook page provides links to APhA content, including stories, legislative updates, drug information courtesy of APhA’s DrugInfoLine, book sales, annual meeting news, promotions, and more. Pharmacy Today’s Facebook page posts breaking news, fast facts, infographs, articles about patient care services by pharmacists, and information to share with patients. Visitors to the pages can comment on articles, engage in a dialogue with each other, and send us messages. 

If you haven’t tried Facebook yet, give it a try. And if you are on Facebook, please visit and “like” our pages!

JAPhA editors retreat

Last fall, the editors of JAPhA met in Chicago to mark a major changing of the guard. Three long-time associate editors ended their terms in December, and four new associate editors came on board. The experienced editors coached the new editors and passed along words of wisdom and encouragement. The group also discussed hot topics, perspectives from several decades of publishing, and future directions for the Journal. The editors concluded the retreat with dinner at a famous Chicago pizza joint, Lou Malnati’s. Several editors attended a major medical meeting the next day. From left to right: Lisa Guirguis, Salisa Westrick, Andy Stergachis, Spencer Harpe, Jennifer Cerulli, Jeanine Abrons, Joe Sheffer, John Bentley, Karen Tracy, Pam Heaton, Lauren Angelo, and Michael Posey.

Get the ‘premium experience’ at APhA2014

Don’t miss out on all there is to discover at the 2014 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, FL from March 28 to 31. With the best speakers and the hottest topics, you are sure to gain valuable knowledge that will enhance your practice. 

To take advantage of the premium pricing, register now for premeeting education and additional offerings. The premium registration package includes your registration, video on demand, and continuing education. The video on demand includes 11 sessions from APhA2014, giving you the opportunity to earn 22 hours of CPE credit from the comfort of your home or office.

With captivating speakers, comprehensive programming, and networking opportunities, the question is: Have you registered for APhA2014? Registration for APhA2014 is now open. Please visit for more details and to register. 

Natosha McNeal, contributing writer

Kudos to the APhA Foundation! 

APhA received a letter of commendation from Acting U.S. Deputy Surgeon Scott F. Giberson, BSPharm, MPH, praising the APhA Foundation’s efforts with the Pharmacists Care and 24 Hours to Health initiatives.

The Pharmacists Care campaign took place last October during American Pharmacists Month. For a small donation, pharmacists, and friends or family of pharmacists, showed their pride in the profession and the important work that pharmacists do by personalizing a mortar and pestle marker with their name and state, or the name and state of their favorite pharmacist. During one week in October, the lawn of APhA Headquarters was decorated with the markers as a visual representation of how much pharmacists care and how important their care is to patient health. The Foundation will reprise the campaign in October 2014.

24 Hours to Health, an initiative launching later in 2014, is a program in which teams across the country can participate in physical activities of their choice for a combined 24 hours to support the Foundation’s patient-facing mission of improving people’s health through pharmacists’ patient care services. 

“The pharmacy profession is well positioned to help lead us to a healthier nation,” wrote Giberson. “Thank you for keeping up the momentum in advancing our profession through outreach programs like these that embrace and focus on health and wellness.”

For more information about the APhA Foundation’s initiatives, visit its newly redesigned website. Are you interested in starting a 24 Hours to Health team? E-mail the Foundation at

Member Milestones

Jon Schommer, PhD, Professor and Associate Department Head of Pharmaceutical Care and Health Systems at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, was chosen to serve as a member of the National Quality Forum’s (NQF’s) Health Workforce Steering Committee for the 2013–14 Prioritizing Measure Gaps project. The project’s goal is to provide multistakeholder guidance on priorities for performance measure development and endorsement by focusing on areas that have been repeatedly identified as needing more substantive performance measurement.

Marie A. Chisholm-Burns, PharmD, MPH, MBA, FCCP, FASHP, was named the recipient of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Research and Education Foundation’s 2013 Literature Award for Sustained Contributions. Chisholm-Burns is Dean and Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Pharmacy. She was recognized for her work in demonstrating the value of pharmacist-provided patient care and her contributions to the field of transplantation.

Andy Stergachis, PhD, BPharm, Editor-in-chief of JAPhA and Professor of Epidemiology and Global Health, Adjunct Professor of Pharmacy and Health Services at the University of Washington received the Pharmacist of the Year Award from the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA). Stergachis was instrumental in connecting local and state public health officials with the WSPA and pharmacy leaders to strengthen the role of pharmacies and pharmacists in emergency preparedness planning. 

Members can share news about promotions, new positions, and awards with the rest of APhA by e-mailing the details—who, what, when, and where—to Photographs, in the form of high-resolution TIFF or JPEG files, are welcome.

Here is this month’s top trending DrugInfoLine article

Focus on Immunizations
John D. Grabenstein, Section Advisor

New guideline: Vaccines in immunocompromised patients

Key point

A new guideline issued by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) emphasizes that decisions about vaccines administration in immunocompromised patients should be based on the level of immunosuppression, the type of vaccine and its indication, and other factors. Specific guidance is provided for administering immunizations in patients taking immunosuppressant drug therapy such as corticosteroids, methotrexate, or monoclonal antibodies.

Finer points 

A compromised immune system increases patient susceptibility to infection and resultant complications. IDSA recently convened an international expert panel to conduct an analysis of published literature from 1966 using evidence-based standards. The resulting remarkably detailed guideline addresses administration of routinely recommended vaccines in children and adults with primary and secondary (e.g., chemotherapy or corticosteroid-induced) immunodeficiency.

The guideline defined levels of immunosuppression based on underlying disease or drug therapy. Immunosuppressant therapies were classified as inducing a high or low level of immunosuppression.

High-level immunosuppressant therapy includes the following:

  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Daily corticosteroid therapy at a dose of20 mg of prednisone or its equivalent for 14 days
  • Biologic immune modulators (i.e., tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocker or rituximab)
  • Low-level immunosuppressant therapy includes the following:
  • Daily corticosteroid therapy of less than 20 mg of prednisone or its equivalent for 14 days or alternate-day dosing
  • Methotrexate 0.4 mg/kg/week
  • Azathioprine 3 mg/kg/day
  • 6-mercaptopurine 1.5 mg/kg/day

Other recommendations relevant to immunizing pharmacists included:

  • Influenza vaccine
  • Administer inactivated influenza vaccine yearly for immunocompromised persons aged 6 months or older, except when very unlikely to respond, such as after intensive chemotherapy.
  • Do not give live, attenuated influenza vaccine to immunocompromised individuals.
  • Zoster vaccine live (Zostavax—Merck)
  • If able to be given 4 weeks before starting immunosuppressive therapy, zoster vaccine should be administered to patients aged 60 years and considered in varicella-positive patients aged 50 to 59 years.
  • Zoster vaccine should be administered to patients 60 years old receiving drug therapy associated with a low level of immunosuppression.
  • Do not administer to highly immunocompromised patients.

What you need to know

The guideline also provided detailed advice for administering vaccinations to individuals with HIV; solid-organ and stem cell transplant recipients; in patients with cancer, asplenia, or sickle cell disease; and for international travel.

What your patients need to know

A recent guideline provided recommendations for clinicians about which vaccines are okay to give and when. Patients with questions about vaccines should talk to their pharmacist or their health care provider.


Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Dec 4. [Epub ahead of print]

The latest drug news

Check out APhA DrugInfoLine, an online pharmacotherapy news resource for APhA members. Each week, DrugInfoLine editors work with a panel of pharmacy experts in 20 disease states to highlight the most relevant studies and guidelines published in peer-reviewed journals that affect drug therapy choices.

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