Pharmacists in Action, August 2014

What Pharmacists Are Doing Across the Country

Federal agencies recognize pharmacists’ value

For many months now, we’ve been emphasizing the need to gain a critical mass of support for our goal to get more pharmacists on the health care team. History may reflect that this is the moment the momentum is shifting in our favor! As this issue of Pharmacy Today went to press, we had 82 cosponsors of H.R. 4190 and a growing number of folks within the various federal agencies who are recognizing that pharmacists are part of the solution to better medication use.

One of our biggest supporters is former U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD, MPH. Recently, a number of pharmacy leaders met with Koh and his staff—including CMS, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), National Vaccine Program Office, Office of Chronic Disease Management, Office of Women’s Health, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, and other key offices—to discuss prevention in the era of health reform. It was clear to me from our discussions that HHS “gets it” that pharmacists are an underutilized resource that HHS is committed to engaging more significantly in the future.

Shortly after the meeting, Koh announced that he has accepted a new position at the Harvard School of Public Health as Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership (see page 2). Wanda Jones, DrPH, is serving as the acting Assistant Secretary for Health. This is good news because she shares Koh’s beliefs about the value of pharmacists.

Also at the federal agency level, I was privileged to participate in the USPHS Commissioned Corps Change of Command and Flag Promotion Ceremony at FDA. At this event, the Chief Pharmacy Officer command was handed off from RADM Scott Giberson, BSPharm, MPH, to newly minted RADM Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD. Other nonfederal participants included Rebecca Snead, BSPharm, from the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and Jon Roth from the California Pharmacists Association. The event was symbolic of the strong coordination that occurs among the many federal agencies to support team-based care. Particularly exciting is the close connection that RADM Schweitzer has with CMS. As we promote patient access and coverage for pharmacists’ quality patient care services, it is clear our missions are aligned with USPHS.

I also participated in an event as part of an ongoing cooperative agreement between the Brookings Institution’s Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform and FDA on the development of high-quality prescription medication information. The goal is to ensure patients have access to concise, clear, and consistent information on how to safely and effectively take their medications. I can say without reservation that gatherings like these indicate a growing momentum around greater involvement of pharmacists on the health care team.

I urge you to continue to call on your Member of Congress to support recognizing pharmacists as a valuable—and critical—member of the patient’s health care team. Every positive interaction with a legislator, decision maker, and consumer moves our progress forward.

Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, Executive Vice President and CEO

“You don’t have to go to Washington, DC, to advocate with your Member of Congress.”

—APhA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Pharmacy Practice Stacie Maass, BSPharm, JD (see page 50 for more information)

A minute with …

Melissa Skelton Duke, PharmD, MS, BCPS

Clinical Pharmacy Services Manager

Intermountain Healthcare

Phoenix, AZ

APhA member since 2005

My current job is … Senior Director for Specialty Pharmacy Services. I am currently building a specialty pharmacy service line that is integrated across a large, comprehensive health care delivery system. This service focuses on providing a high level of support and care for patients who are prescribed specialty medications.

I first became interested in being a pharmacist … after seeing family members struggle with their medications. After watching my mom struggle with a chronic illness that requires expensive medications, I thought it would be very rewarding to be able to help people like her.

I joined APhA … as a first-year PharmD student because I wanted to learn more about the opportunities in the profession. I know I am a better pharmacist because of APhA.

My most memorable APhA experiences … are the APhA Annual Meetings, particularly the House of Delegates. I also like to catch up with old friends.

If I weren’t a pharmacist, I’d be … an economist.

People would be surprised to know that … Paul Simon is my favorite musician.

If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, I’d choose … Abraham Lincoln.

Pharmacology info at your fingertips

Understanding Drug Action: An Introduction to Pharmacology by Peter J. Rice, PharmD, PhD, BCPS, is a basic textbook for the layperson interested in pharmacology. It gently guides uninitiated readers who have a standard grasp of biology, chemistry, and human physiology to the world of pharmacology and introduces them to the fundamentals of drug action. The book is intended for the pharmacy technician who wishes to delve further into the pharmaceutical sciences, a student taking a semester course in pharmacology, or even a high school student as part of his or her science curriculum.

The book is organized in a logical fashion. The first half starts with an introduction to the history of pharmacology, a description of the process of drug development, and an explanation of receptors. An explanation of absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion, and pharmacokinetics is highlighted in succeeding chapters. In the latter part of the book, major body systems are introduced, followed by an orientation to the medications that affect those systems.

The book is not a comprehensive list of all drugs. Rather, it mentions the major drug classes. For a pharmacology textbook, the book is easy to read and provides simple analogies that make difficult concepts such as volume of distribution or the different types of metabolism easy to understand. Each chapter begins with objectives, segues into the main topic, and ends with a summary, a table of drugs discussed, and a series of review questions.

This book provides a solid background for the reader who wishes to delve further into the world of pharmacology. Most pharmacology books assume the reader has a grasp of the basics of pharmacology; this is the book to read to acquire that basic knowledge to understand other books. It arms the reader with the confidence and knowledge to grasp more involved readings on pharmacology.

ISBN: 9781582121123 | Softcover; 335 pages | List price: $49.95 | APhA member price: $32.00

Honeylit Katje Cueco, PharmD, Southcentral Foundation Primary Care Clinic, Alaska Native Medical Center, Anchorage

APhA2015: Destination San Diego

Discover why San Diego is known as the “City in Motion” at the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, March 27–30, 2015, at the San Diego Convention Center. San Diego is the perfect city for new practitioners and community pharmacists to convene with their peers. From SeaWorld to the San Diego Zoo, join us to experience all that this coastal beach town has to offer.

Professional development

APhA2015 provides the unique opportunity for you to advance your career through extensive networking, educational seminars, and advocacy. With more than 70 education sessions and the opportunity to earn up to 20 continuing pharmacy education credits, APhA2015 is the place to increase your knowledge base and meet up with APhA’s 60,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and others interested in advancing the profession.

This year’s theme, Advancing as One, highlights the growing sense of community and the goal of all pharmacy professionals to provide quality patient care and access. Special attention will be given to key legislation and patient care advancements and how pharmacists can use them to improve not only their individual practices but also the pharmacy profession.

Register now

Register now and save big! Registration for APhA2015 is now open. Please visit for more details and to register.

Natosha McNeal, contributing writer

Media vibe

During the month of June, APhA External Communications and Media Advisors responded to 10 media inquiries, including:

  • FedEx Updates: Pharmaceutical supply chain safety and pharmaceutical delivery information
  • Insight North America, Inc.: Pharmacy trends and pharmacist services approved by state
  • CBS News: Pharmacy billing and determining the price for drugs
  • Drug Topics: Statistics on pharmacists offering travel vaccines nationwide
  • How pharmacists’ services help patients save time and money
  • Employment of pharmacists by physician practices


The estimated number of new cases of bladder cancer in 2014, which is 4.5% of all new cancer cases. Source:

An update for pharmacy technicians

The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) recently announced that Certified Pharmacy Technicians (CPhTs) are now required to complete 1 hour of continuing education (CE) in patient safety in addition to the already required hour of law CE as part of 20 hours of CE needed to recertify.

The requirement, one of the planned Certification Program changes PTCB announced early last year to elevate certification standards, took effect in April. “By continually learning more about preventing harm, CPhTs can advance the patient safety culture within pharmacies and across the entire continuum of care,” said Everett B. McAllister, RPh, MPA, PTCB’s Executive Director and CEO.

Other planned PTCB Certification Program changes include American Society of Health-System Pharmacists–accredited education requirements for certification by 2020 and more changes in acceptable CE programs, including requiring all 20 CE hours to be pharmacy technician–specific (‘T’-designated) in 2015. Allowable CE hours from college courses will be reduced from 15 to 10 by 2016, and acceptable in-service CE hours will be phased out by 2018.


The Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) awarded PTCB a contract designating PTCB as the only TSBP-recognized certifying body for pharmacy technicians. The 4-year agreement will take effect on September 1, 2014, and replace a previous contract with PTCB due to expire August 31, 2014. PTCB was selected for the contract after a rigorous bidding and evaluation process that included formal reviews and psychometric analysis.

Laura Humphrey, Manager of Communications, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board

Members are looking at

The APhA Foundation recently unveiled a refreshed logo! The new design communicates how the Foundation’s practice-based research advances the profession and improves health care quality. The Foundation spent more than a year on the rebranding project with the goal of putting a stronger focus on the innovation behind their work. It began with the development of the Foundation’s website, launched last October, and the updated logo design grew out of that creative momentum. To learn more about the process behind the logo development, please visit

Get involved: APhA–APRS

I am a member of the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science (APhA–APRS) Economic, Social, and Administrative Sciences (ESAS) section. APhA–APRS, bridging science and practice, serves as the home for researchers and practitioners interested in basic, clinical, economic, social, and administrative sciences. I joined APhA–APRS and the ESAS section because they align with my research interests and give me the opportunity to network with fellow graduate students and researchers. I often turn to fellow graduate students I have met across the country through APhA–APRS for advice, support, and answers to questions. I know that the friendships I have made will last throughout my career.

Antoinette Coe, PharmD, PhD candidate, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, Richmond

Get involved: APhA–APPM

APhA–APRS member since 2009 One of the goals of the APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management (APhA–APPM) is to foster the growth of Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Through SIGs and their member volunteers, the Academy supports pharmacist-provided clinical services such as medication therapy management, immunizations, and much more. The Academy is a strong advocate for provider status and provides members with opportunities to grow professionally and network with colleagues with similar interests. I joined APhA–APPM because I saw it as a great opportunity to enhance my professional development and work with others who are committed to advancing the profession while improving patient care. Being a part of APhA–APPM has helped me cultivate and share my passion for pharmacy while supporting others.

Carmela Avena-Woods, PharmD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy Practice, St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences APhA–APPM member since 2012

Did you know?

APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science (APhA–APRS) and APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management (APhA–APPM) are now accepting nominations for leadership positions.

APhA–APRS has several Academy office positions open, including Basic Sciences Chair-elect, Clinical Sciences Chair-elect, and Economic, Social, and Administrative Sciences (ESAS) Chair-elect for APhA pharmaceutical scientists and researchers. APhA–APPM President-elect and Member-at-Large positions are open for APhA pharmacy practitioners.

Visit, log into your account, and look under the tabs for Academies, Section, and SIGs (Special Interest Groups) to see all that APhA–APRS and APhA–APPM have to offer. If you are a member of APhA–APRS, please make sure you have selected one of the Academy’s three sections as your primary section.

Visit for additional information about the available positions within the upcoming APhA2015 elections.

APhA’s Board takes Capitol Hill by storm

APhA’s Board of Trustees recently fanned out across House and Senate offices to talk to Members of Congress and their staff about provider status and the importance of H.R. 4190, legislation that would provide Medicare beneficiaries with access to and coverage for pharmacist-provided patient care services in medically underserved communities. 

Every member of the Board of Trustees met with Members of Congress, resulting in almost 40 Hill meetings.

“H.R. 4190 and provider status broadly remains our number one advocacy priority,” said APhA President Matthew C. Osterhaus, BSPharm, FASCP, FAPhA, co-owner of Osterhaus Pharmacy in Maquoketa, IA, and pictured at right. “Building a relationship with your federal legislators and their staff as a trusted source of information is the key to success on the Hill.”

Osterhaus visited the offices of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). “The visits were productive and encouraging,” Osterhaus told Pharmacy Today. Braley is already a cosponsor of H.R. 4190. The Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition is working with the Senate on a companion bill. 

As Today went to press, H.R. 4190 had amassed 82 cosponsors. Is your Member of Congress among them? If not, please send a letter asking for support at

California student pharmacists advocate for H.R. 4190

Loma Linda University student pharmacists Joseph Han (left) and Michelle Park (right) meet with Patricia Fabio (center), staff of Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), to advocate for H.R. 4190.

Student pharmacists from California recently reached out to the staff of several Members of Congress to promote H.R. 4190, which would amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to enable patient access to and coverage for Medicare Part B services by state-licensed pharmacists in medically underserved communities.

Staff of Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) met with Joseph Han and Michelle Park, 2015 PharmD candidates at Loma Linda University’s School of Pharmacy.

Staff of Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) recently met with two pharmacists and 11 first- and second-year student pharmacists. Students shared their stories to highlight the importance of the bill for McNerney’s constituents and answered the congressional staffers’ questions, according to Tinh An (April) Nguyen, 2016 PharmD candidate at the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists’ Vice President of Legislative Affairs.

Meetings with the staff of Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) were attended by several student pharmacists and at least one pharmacist, according to Daniel Kudryashov, a 2015 PharmD candidate at the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy and the recipient of the 2014 APhA Good Government Student Pharmacist of the Year Award.

“It seemed like our message was received well in all offices. We had at least 30 minutes of face time per meeting,” Kudryashov said. “The staff seemed very interested in what we had to say and promised to discuss our concerns with the staff in Washington, DC.” 

Biles leaves imprint on pharmacy

John A. Biles, a longtime pharmacy advocate and leader, died on June 27, after a long illness.

Biles served as head of the University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy from 1968 to 1995. Under his direction, Biles played a role in transforming the pharmacy profession by designing clinical clerkships for student pharmacists, which have since become the norm for pharmacy education. He also created the country’s first graduate degrees in PharmD/MBA, PharmD/certificate in gerontology in 1990, and PhD in pharmaceutical economics and policy. Biles began his tenure at USC in 1952 as an assistant professor and was a USC faculty member for 45 years.

Biles is known for developing a longstanding collaboration between USC and Allergan that began in the 1950s. He recreated formulas for products after the company’s inventor died of a heart attack.

Biles held numerous leadership positions throughout his career. He served as president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy from 1990 to 1991. He was a fellow of the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences and of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

He was the recipient of several awards, including USC’s 1998 Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2001 Teaching and Mentoring Award.