ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

May 20, 2019

ASHP is Committed to Ensuring that all Medications are Accessible, Safe, and Effective

Dear Colleagues,

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Many of you may have seen recent stories in the media questioning the accessibility and safety of generic drugs, including those manufactured overseas. These stories, and others like them, could lead to fear and confusion among patients, potentially leading to adherence issues and poor health outcomes. As the medication safety experts on the front lines with patients, it is critical that our members know that ASHP is committed to working with you, our partners in government, and other key stakeholders to help ensure that medications are accessible, safe, and effective, regardless of origin.

We have been in recent contact with FDA leaders to ensure that they fully appreciate the concerns that ASHP and our 50,000 members have regarding the absolute need for quality generic medications, and the need for the entire pharmaceutical industry to adhere to standards of quality. ASHP will continue to meet with FDA, Congress, industry leaders, and other stakeholders to help assure the public that the medications they take are safe and effective, and will strongly advocate for any changes that may need to be made to law or regulation to support that goal.

On Friday, the FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs issued a statement that reaffirms their commitment to safety and quality and outlines their risk-based approach to global inspections.

The safety and efficacy of medications is central to ASHP’s patient care and public health mission and we have championed these issues in our ongoing work in a number of areas, including sterile compounding and drug shortages. We enjoy a close partnership with officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, as a longtime leader and Board member in the Alliance for a Stronger FDA, have been a vocal advocate for sufficient federal appropriations to the agency so that it has the resources necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of medical and other FDA-regulated products.

We will continue to be in close contact with the FDA and will keep you informed on steps they are taking to ensure the quality and safety of generic medications in light of recent stories in the media.

ASHP has also long been at the forefront of efforts to address escalating drug prices, including generic medications, and their impact on pharmacy practice and patient outcomes.

ASHP is a lead member of the Steering Committee for the Campaign for Sustainable Drug Pricing (CSRxP) and is actively involved in other collaborative efforts to identify bipartisan solutions to address skyrocketing drug prices and provide more affordable choices for patients. ASHP strongly supports the need for reforms to address the underlying causes of high drug prices, including increased transparency, competition, and value.

In addition to our work with CSRxP, ASHP is actively engaging Congress on critical issues related to access and affordability of medications. ASHP has submitted 11 statements related to drug pricing to congressional Committees over the past year, and in just this month alone, ASHP representatives have met with two dozen congressional offices, representing the voices of our members on the tremendous impact of escalating drug prices.

Late last week the House of Representatives passed legislation to reduce the cost of generic drugs, by prohibiting brand manufacturers from taking steps to keep generic products from the marketplace, including barring pay for delay tactics, allowing generic manufacturers access to samples of branded products, and removing regulatory barriers to the launch of multiple versions of a generic product.

ASHP is supportive of the drug pricing provisions included in H.R. 987 as they represent important steps to promote competition and ensure that generic drugs reach patients sooner. In the weeks and months ahead, we will take this message to the U.S. Senate and advocate for drug pricing legislation.

We will continue to advocate for policies and regulatory solutions that support safe, effective, and accessible medications for our patients, and will provide updates on new activities, initiatives, and outcomes from our efforts as available. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact ASHP’s Government Relations team. Further, we will plan to keep you updated on this issue and others as new developments arise.  Thank you for being a member of ASHP, and for everything you do for your patients.

Sincerely,

Paul

 

May 14, 2019

Mindfulness and Improv Help Pharmacy Students Cope with Burnout

Anne Graff LaDisa, Pharm.D., BCPS, uses improv to teach student pharmacists about effective communication skills.

IN A QUIET LOW-LIT CLASSROOM, students sit comfortably with their eyes closed and their spines straight. They bring attention to their breathing and imagine that they have a balloon in their stomachs. Every time they breathe in, the balloon inflates. Every time they breathe out, the balloon deflates. With every exhale, the students imagine their daily stresses and frustrations floating away. This isn’t a mindfulness retreat at some hideaway resort or the calming conclusion of a power yoga class. It’s a pharmacy course at the Concordia University-Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, where two professors are teaching students to use mindfulness to cope with burnout both during school and throughout their future careers.

According to Christina Martin, Pharm.D., M.S., Director of Membership Forums for ASHP, pharmacist burnout is a serious concern. A 2018 study published in AJHP reported that more than half of health-system pharmacists surveyed felt a high degree of burnout. In addition, a recent salary survey found that two-thirds of pharmacists experienced increased job stress over the previous year, and that 72 percent said workloads increased from the year before.

“When healthcare providers feel stressed, it can also have an impact on their patients,” said Dr. Martin. Burnout is associated with more medical errors and poorer patient safety outcomes, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “We really have to care for the caregiver and ensure that we’re providing resources and support to those who are caring for patients in very chaotic healthcare times,” she added.

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Elizabeth Buckley, Pharm.D., CDE

Elizabeth Buckley, Pharm.D., CDE, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at Concordia University-Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, often includes the balloon-in-the-stomach exercise in her classes. She first introduced it while teaching a diabetes elective for third-year pharmacy students in the spring of 2017 — and she saw immediate changes. It made a huge difference “on attitude, on calmness, on collegiality,” she said.

It worked so well that in the fall of 2018, she added it to her weekly lectures in the Applied Patient Care I course, which is for first-year pharmacy students. “The tone of the class changed in a significant way. Everyone settled down and the discussion was more robust,” she said. “The mindfulness exercise centered me, and it centered the class.”

Dr. Buckley hopes that teaching pharmacy students mindfulness now will help them avoid burnout in the future. “If you’re going to be in a career where you care for other people, you have to figure out self-care in order to be good at being a clinician,” she said.

Improv Shakes Things Up

Anne Graff LaDisa, Pharm.D., BCPS, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at Concordia University-Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, began teaching an improvisational class to first-year students to help bolster communication and teamwork skills. Improv is a theatrical technique where the characters and dialog in scene or story are made up on the spot. Communication skills learned through improv can help a student become a good pharmacist, she noted. Although she didn’t introduce improv classes for pharmacy students with combating burnout in mind, she explained that improv exercises allow students to be creative and break up a school routine.

Anne Graff LaDisa, Pharm.D., BCPS

Dr. LaDisa began taking improv classes herself in 2003. When she discovered that medical schools were using improv to teach and improve medical students’ communications skills, she became intrigued — even more so when she learned that the University of Arizona has been using improv in its pharmacy school since 2004.

She introduced improv to an existing course in 2015, then taught her first stand-alone elective course for first-, second-, and third-year students in 2017. At the beginning of every class, she reviews the rules of improv, which include always saying “yes, and …” to what your partner is trying to communicate, emphasizing the here and now, being specific, and focusing on characters and relationships.

In Dr. LaDisa’s class, a two-person scene requires the students to follow the rules of improv and may involve a scenario unrelated to healthcare. After the students complete the improv exercise, she asks them questions about how they felt about the activity – what things they found challenging and what skills they felt they had to use to be successful. Finally, the students talk about how to apply those skills to clinical pharmacy practice.

Role-playing in a healthcare or social setting can help pharmacy students improve collaboration and teamwork skills. “Improv training gives students an advantage when it comes to communication, which is a critical skill for all pharmacists,” she said.

By Jen A. Miller

 

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