Pharmacists in Action, November 2014

What Pharmacists Are Doing Across the Country

Pharmacists on the frontline of infectious disease management

The Ebola outbreak is an emerging health crisis, and pharmacists in all settings have an important role to play. It’s important to remember that Ebola isn’t our only infectious disease worry. As we head into cold and influenza season, cases of the deadly and mysterious enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) are on the rise.

Pharmacists are in an excellent position to counsel patients and spot potential cases of infectious diseases very early. More than 270 million Americans visit a pharmacy every week. The current public health concerns are a lesson for all health care providers, including pharmacists, who may be the first to encounter a patient with symptoms that are consistent with a particular infectious disease.

By asking the right questions, we have the opportunity to counsel and refer patients to appropriate care. Because many of these symptoms are similar to those associated with other viral illnesses, encourage all patients to get a seasonal influenza vaccination, follow good cough and sneeze hygiene, wash their hands, and stay home from school or work if they have cold or flulike symptoms. APhA has more information on about the current virus concerns.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, stressed during a media briefing that health care workers, including pharmacists, should “think Ebola” if a patient has a fever and has been in West Africa recently. I urge all of you, regardless of practice site, to be mindful of this message.

CDC recently issued guidelines about Ebola for pharmacists and other health care providers. According to CDC, health care providers should take a travel history from any person who has symptoms of viral infection and should consider Ebola in patients with a fever greater than 100.4° Fahrenheit, severe headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding 21 days after traveling from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, or Sierra Leone. (For more information, see page 43.)

I also want to draw your attention to EV-D68, a nonpolio enterovirus that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Since mid-August, nearly 600 people in 43 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed with EV-D68 infection. If a patient presents with acute, unexplained, severe respiratory illness, CDC said health care providers should consider EV-D68 the cause and proceed with testing. (For more information, see page 39.)

Now, more than ever, pharmacists are needed to help manage these public health crises. As pharmacists, we should encourage patients to obtain their prescription medications at one pharmacy, get to know their pharmacist on a first-name basis, discuss their medications with their pharmacist, carry an up-to-date medication and vaccination list, and share all medical information with each of their health care providers.

As a group, we interact with thousands of patients every day, and this is yet another opportunity for pharmacists to step forward and make a dramatic impact on public health.

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

“One of the things that we’re working hard to promote now is ensuring that doctors and nurses, pharmacists, health care workers throughout the health care system think Ebola in anyone who has fever and ask whether they have been in West Africa in the past 21 days.”

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, CDC Director, during an October 8, 2014, media briefing about the Ebola outbreak 

Education matters at APhA2015

Designed with you in mindAttending compelling education sessions that are important to you and your practice is a top reason to come to the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, March 27–30, 2015, in San Diego. Join more than 6,500 of your pharmacy colleagues for an extended weekend of continuing education and opportunity!

“Meeting the needs of the members” was one of the most important factors when it came to developing the APhA2015 education curriculum, noted Helen Ali-Sairany, PharmD, BSc, APhA Associate Director of Content Development.

She explained that the goal for this year’s planning was to answer the questions, “How can I meet the needs of members, and what can they take away?” The upcoming Annual Meeting’s education program “incorporated feedback from members and is more diverse and  inclusive,” said Ali-Sairany. Incorporating feedback from specialty interest groups, the use of environmental scans, and subject matter experts further developed the program.

The education sessions are categorized into specific tracks, which are designed to represent the practice and content areas. The Clinical Care and Patient Services track will have 31 sessions at APhA2015 and will focus heavily on the controversy over conflicting treatment recommendations in the management of cholesterol and hypertension. The Educating the Educators track will focus on best practices and practical tools for pharmacy educators.

Registration for APhA2015 is now open. Visit today to save big by registering early.

Natosha McNeal, contributing writer

A minute with . . .

Richard A. Hansen, PhD
Professor and Head
Department  of Health Outcomes Research and Policy
Harrison School of Pharmacy at Auburn University
Auburn, AL

APhA member since 1999

I joined APhA because ... APhA keeps me connected to the profession of pharmacy. The membership of APhA is quite diverse and therefore exposes me to many facets of the profession. I can find programming and networking opportunities specific to my work in the Economic, Social, and Administrative Sciences Section of the Academy for Pharmaceutical Research and Science.

My most memorable APhA experiences ... include being inducted as a fellow, enjoying dinner on the scenic roof of the APhA headquarters building at the Academy Leadership Meeting, and my first podium presentation to a national audience. 

The advice I give to pharmacists who want to follow my career path ... is that academic pharmacy is very rewarding but also very challenging.

Professionally I want to ... help people stay healthy or get healthy by providing research on how the risks and benefits of different treatments or health system interventions compare against each other.

People would be surprised to know that ... prior to choosing pharmacy, I was an art major and completed the majority of my coursework for a bachelor’s degree in art. While that’s quite a contrast from pharmacy, I think it may be why research fits me well. I can use my creativity in conducting and presenting research.

Did you know?

APhA is accepting proposals for Patient Care Services Pearls, which are concise, 15-minute presentations that describe an innovative strategy, idea, or resource for promoting patient care services provided by pharmacists.

Submissions will go through a peer-review process, and those that best fit the vision for the Patient Care Services Pearls session will be accepted for presentation at the 2015 APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition.

Pearls should be original, provide tips on how to conduct patient care services, and be grounded in fact and experience. Proposals must include a title; author’s name with complete mailing address, phone, and e-mail; and a 100- to 300-word abstract that provides a narrative of the presenter’s experience with the pearl topic.

E-mail proposals to Margaret Tomecki by November 21, 2014, with APhA2015 Patient Care Services Pearls Proposal in the subject line.

Media vibe

During the month of September, APhA External Communications and Media Advisors responded to 14 media inquiries, including:

  • Managed Care: Pharmocogenomics testing and medication therapy management
  • USA Today: Pharmacy tobacco sales and CVS
  • New York Times: Drug take-back programs
  • AP: Pharmacist influenza vaccinations
  • Kaiser Health News: Impact of hydrocodone rescheduling on patients, including health insurance concerns

New APhA training program

Pharmacists play key roles in reducing risk for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. APhA’s new certificate training program, Pharmacy-Based Cardiovascular Disease Risk Management, explores the recent evidence and guidelines for risk factor management, including discussion of risk assessment, hypertension management, dyslipidemia management, and lifestyle interventions. Opportunities for pharmacists to support patients’ cardiovascular health and business strategies for pharmacy-based cardiovascular health services are also described in detail.

APhA developed the program under the guidance of an advisory board of national experts chaired by Vincent J. Willey, PharmD, BCACP. The inaugural offering of this program will be held at APhA2015 in San Diego.

For more information and to register, visit

Campos wins APhA contest

APhA congratulates Matias Campos for winning the Refer a Friend contest! Campos has received free registration to APhA2015 for referring three friends to join the Pharmacists Provide Care (PPC) campaign.

More than 4,000 pharmacists, students, and practitioners from across the country have already joined the PPC campaign.

Even though the contest is over, let’s keep growing the PPC campaign. Keep the momentum going, and tell a friend about the campaign and why it matters for the future of pharmacy!


This fall, APhA’s Political Action Committee (APhA–PAC) and the APhA Academy of Pharmacy Practice & Management (APhA–APPM) joined forces to help raise awareness about H.R. 4190 and the value of political advocacy by launching the first APhA–PAC APhA–APPM SIG Challenge. SIGs (Special Interest Groups) competed against each other to see which SIG could raise the most for APhA–PAC before election day.

Dedicated SIG PAC Leaders volunteered their time by encouraging fellow SIG members to show their commitment to provider status by participating in the Challenge. The winning SIG will be announced on November 10 and recognized at APhA2015.

With more than 115 Congressional cosponsors, APhA–PAC is crucial in continuing to educate legislators on the importance of H.R. 4190. During election season, legislators are campaigning around the country, so it was the perfect time for APhA–APPM SIG members to make an impact. SIG participants helped strengthen their profession’s voice on Capitol Hill by supporting APhA–PAC.

For more information on how you can be involved in political advocacy, contact Lauren DePutter, Senior Manager, Grassroots Advocacy and PAC, at or (202) 223-7181. To learn more about the APhA–APPM SIGs, visit

18.7 million

Number of noninstitutionalized adults who currently have asthma


Global Humanitarian Pharmacists Network helps patients with chronic conditions during disaster response

APhA member Vidya Nair, PharmD, was working as a pharmacy technician at a major community pharmacy in Georgia when Hurricane Katrina hit the southeastern United States.

“Our pharmacy happened to be located next to a large Red Cross shelter that housed many of these displaced disaster survivors,” said Nair. “At that time, many pharmacies did not have a mechanism in place to address chronic medication needs for displaced patients who lost their access to medications and medication management services.”

Nair, now an emergency department pharmacist at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA, watched pharmacists struggle to meet the chronic disease needs of disaster survivors. With help from Courtney Sellers, PharmD, and Matt Gardner, PharmD, she developed and launched the Global Humanitarian Pharmacists Network (GHPN) to bridge this gap in care. The organization’s mission is to help provide access to chronic disease management and prescription orders for maintenance medications (one-time fill) to disaster survivors by using volunteer pharmacist responders.

GHPN is still in its early stages of development, and Nair is currently collaborating with the Washington State Pharmacy Association; the Washington State Emergency Preparedness and Response department; and Washington State University College of Pharmacy to develop collaborative drug therapy protocol, state registration mechanisms for volunteer pharmacists/student pharmacists, and continuing education material relevant for disaster response.

“We plan to launch this initiative in Washington State initially and hope to expand regionally in the next 2 to 3 years, and eventually nationally in the next 5 years,” said Nair.

To learn more about GHPN, or to help with planning or fundraising, contact Vidya Nair.

Howard University students learn about provider status advocacy

Howard University student pharmacist activists and APhA Government Affairs staff Lauren DePutter and Michael Spira.

Student pharmacists at the Howard University College of Pharmacy recently learned more about provider status as part of APhA Government Affairs staff outreach to student pharmacists. Michael Spira, APhA Senior Lobbyist, and Lauren DePutter, APhA Senior Manager, Grassroots Activity and PAC (Political Action Committee), spoke to approximately 40 student pharmacists.

The idea came about when a few Howard student pharmacists e-mailed DePutter earlier this year to find out how they could be more involved in advocacy and the APhA–PAC. “Speaking personally with student pharmacists and being accessible about why political advocacy is the key to passing H.R. 4190 helps them make the connection about how valuable they are in making an impact,” said DePutter.

DePutter met with the students for a casual conversation at a Starbucks in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC, where they discussed how Howard’s student pharmacists from all over the country are in a great position to lobby their legislators because the university is conveniently located in DC. 

“Student pharmacists are in a great position to talk to their Members of Congress about the changing landscape of health care and how they are improving their communities’ health. Members of Congress want to hear from student pharmacists about how they are being trained and how policy can help improve their access to treating patients,” DePutter said.