Positions Are Open on USPCommittees
The United States Pharmacopeia(USP) is looking for qualified candidatesto become members of its 2005-2010 Council of Experts (CoE) andExpert Committees, which comprise52 expert committees in all. USP's CoEand Expert Committees are the decision-making bodies of USP that focuson specific standards, information,and patient safety. Each CoE memberserves a 5-year term.Expert Committee members spendan average of 2 to 5 hours a week onUSP activities. Standards ExpertCommittees set up and review drugmonographs and general chapters, createand review testing methods, andcollaborate on scientific topics that appearin the United States Pharmacopeiaand National Formulary. InformationExpert Committees addressinformation development, review ofoff-label-use information, and issuesrelating to safe medication use.The deadline for submitting applicationsis November 1, 2004. The CoEwill be elected at the USP convention(March 9-13, 2005; Washington, DC).Expert Committee members are electedby the CoE chairs after the close of theUSP's Convention. For more information,visit www.usp.org/volunteers/nominate.
Group Elevates Role ofPharmacist in Medicare
Pharmacists for the Protection ofPatient Care (P3C)?a newly formedgroup of pharmacists and advocatesnationwide?has as its goal to advancethe quality of patient care by promotingthe role of the pharmacist at thefederal policy level. The coalition ispleased with the unanimous agreementreached by the federal MedicareConference Committee whereby Medicareplans must include provisions givingpatients access to MedicationTherapy Management Services (MTMS)provided by pharmacists. P3C will educatelawmakers and the public on thedirect benefits to patients' quality oflife that result from pharmacists' moreintensive involvement in case managementand drug therapies where multipledrugs are prescribed.J. Lyle Bootman, PhD, chairman ofP3C, first made headlines about theeffects of medication misuse with hislandmark study "Drug Morbidity andMortality: A Cost of Illness Model,"published in the American MedicalAssociation's Archivesof Internal Medicine (October 1995). All 17 federal legislatorsassigned to the Medicare ConferenceCommittee agreed in September2003 that the new Medicare plans mustinclude programs that provide MTMSby pharmacy providers for use byMedicare patients who have multiplechronic conditions, use multiple medications,and/or are likely to have highdrug costs.Also, the agreement recognizes thatMTMS programs ensure the correct useof drugs, as well as the risk of medicationmisuse. Furthermore, the committeemembers agreed that Medicareplans must take into account MTMSinitiatives when determining reimbursementsfor pharmacists.
Competition Promotes PharmacyOwnership
The National Community PharmacistsAssociation (NCPA) has establishedthe NCPA Pruitt-Schutte StudentBusiness Plan Competition toheighten awareness about independentcommunity pharmacy ownership.The purpose of the competition is toinspire pharmacy students to createthe blueprint necessary for purchasingan existing independent communitypharmacy or to start a new pharmacy.As the first national competition ofits kind in the pharmacy profession, thecompetition is named in honor of 2champions of the independent pharmacy:Neil Pruitt, Sr., who died earlier thisyear, and H. Joseph Schutte, who currentlyserves on the NCPA's FoundationBoard of Trustees. The competition issupported by contributions from thePruitt family, the Schutte family, andMallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals."Many pharmacy students areentrepreneurs and can use their ambitionto build a pharmacy practice settingthat allows them to daily make adifference in the lives of patients andtheir families, while making a verygood living," Schutte said.Registered Pharmacist Bruce Roberts,NCPA executive vice president andchief executive officer, concurs. "One ofthe goals of NCPA is to promote independentpharmacy ownership as ameans to a more satisfying career."The competition is slated to beginin the spring semester of 2004. A Webpage posted on the NCPA Web site ( www.ncpanet.org) will have all theapplication materials and a samplebusiness plan. Interested studentsmust identify a "sponsor/mentor" tohelp them in their business plandevelopment. The mentor can be anNCPA faculty liaison, another facultymember, or a local entrepreneur inthe community. During the springsemester, students will develop theirchapter's business plan and submittheir entry to the NCPA. The winnerswill be announced at the annualNCPA convention.
Tallying of Medication Errors IsIncreasing
The number of medication errors ison the rise, according to data collectedby MEDMARX, the national reportingdatabase operated by the United StatesPharmacopeia (USP). The fourth annualreport, "Summary of InformationSubmitted to MEDMARX in the Year2002: The Quest for Quality," provides adetailed analysis of 192,477 medicationerrors voluntarily reported by 482 hospitalsand health care facilities nationwide.A significant finding is that morethan one third of the medication errorsreaching the patient involved seniors."As the senior population continues toincrease, USP is calling for hospitals tofocus on reducing medication errorsamong seniors. Seniors and their familiesneed to become more involved intheir care," said Diane Cousins, RPh,vice president of the Center for theAdvancement of Patient Safety at USP.Regarding the senior population,the report states:
55% of fatalhospital medicationerrors reported involved seniors
When medicationerrors causedharm to seniors, 9.6% were prescribingerrors
When harm occurred,the wrongroute (7%)?such as a tube feedinggiven intravenously?and thewrong administration technique(6.5%)?such as not diluting concentratedmedications?were thesecond and third most common errorsamong patients >65 years of age
Omission errors(43%), improperdose/quantity errors (18%), and unauthorizeddrug errors (11%) werethe most frequent kinds of medicationerrors among seniors
Of the 192,477 errors, the majoritywere corrected before harming thepatient. Yet, 3213 mistakes (1.7%) didresult in patient injury, compared with2.4% in 2001. The breakdown of thistotal includes 514 errors requiring hospitalization,47 requiring life-sustaininginterventions, and 20 (<1%) fatal.The most common categories ofdrugs involved in errors were opioidanalgesics, sedatives/hypnotics, and anticonvulsants.The most severe injurieswere the result of high-alert medications,including insulin, heparin, andmorphine, according to the report. Also,of the 14 types of errors, the top 5 weremissing 1 or more doses, giving improperdose/quantity, making a prescribingerror, using an incorrect drug, andadministering a drug at the wrong time.
harmacy School Staff DevelopsTechnology to Detect Fake Drugs
Two faculty members at theUniversity of Maryland School ofPharmacy have developed Near-Infrared Spectroscopy as a means tohelp combat the rise of drug-counterfeitingactivities. The school has submittedthe invention to the FDA'sCounterfeit Drug Task Force, which islooking at modern technologies thatwill make it more difficult to distributefake drugs within the United States.The application works by usingexisting technology of infrared light toscan pills, tablets, or capsules. Whilebeing scanned, each medication (andeven each batch) will reflect infraredlight in a manner unique to the drug's(or batch's) individual composition,giving a 1-of-a-kind pattern of light, or"fingerprint." Then, each fingerprint isrecorded and stored in a database.When a suspect drug is scanned, theresulting fingerprint will be crosscheckedwith the database. If the fingerprintdoes not exactly match, agenciessuch as the FDA, pharmaceuticalmanufacturers and distributors, andpharmacists will be alerted within secondsthat the drug is counterfeit.
Albertsons Implements NetworkSolution in Its Stores
Xperex Corp recently completed theinstallation of an innovative self-servicenetwork in 2300 Albertsons food storesand drugstores across 31 states.Albertsons selected the San Francisco-basedXperex to partner with Unicru, aleading workforce acquisition solutionscompany to deliver the most innovativeautomated system for increasing theAlbertsons pool of qualified job candidatesfor specific job opportunities.Xperex has been able to increase thenumber of qualified job applicants andprovide Albertsons with a channel foreducating applicants about the company'smission and open positions bymeans of a video-enhanced self-serviceconsumer interface, which engagespotential job candidates in the applicationexperience; wireless network connectivityto all Albertsons stores; and asuite of Web-accessible applications fortracking data and managing the networkitself."One of our 5 strategic imperatives isto improve our business performancethrough the focused application of technology,"said Bob Dunst, Albertsons'executive vice president and chief technologyofficer. "Not only will theXperex solution provide us with aturnkey network for the delivery of theUnicru workforce acquisition system; itoffers a standardized self-service platformthat we can further leveragethroughout our stores to fulfill theAlbertsons' brand of promise of workinghard to make life easier for our customersand associates." PT