Page 1



CHRONICLES x brought to you by Pharmacy Governing Council

An Interview with Dr. Ernest Mario by Sailaija Darisipudi, PP1 and Christina Zikos, P1 Have you ever wondered who your school is named after? Whether Ernest Mario is an actual person or just a legend? Well lucky for us, PGC president Joseph Kim was able to conduct a telephone interview with our school’s namesake, Dr. Mario, and answer some of our burning questions. It has been nearly ten years since the school of pharmacy at Rutgers University has been renamed after alumnus and benefactor Dr. Ernest Mario. Highly accomplished in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Mario has been connected to at least twenty five pharmaceutical and biomedical companies throughout his career, many of which he successfully led in executive positions. But the education and training of student pharmacists is also something he cares about. He has served as a member of the American Foundation of Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) and is credited with having lent extraordinary help to the school of pharmacy at Rutgers. According to Dr. Mario, the hallmarks of a good pharmacy education are “strong faculty, the support of the student body, having a strong link between the faculty and the students, top notch facilities that prepare the students for the ‘real world,’ and the quality of the alumni support.” Dr. Mario believes EMSOP has maintained an excellent reputation because of its quality: “Rutgers has top-notch quality faculty, students, and facilities. The university also needs to be willing to put in money for the pharmacy school. Rutgers

knows to never back off even if it is doing well. In the past, some schools have been living on their reputation while younger schools worked hard to attract good, young dynamic faculty and caught up very quickly. Rutgers is careful not to fall in that trap and continues to work hard to meet and exceed its standards.”

Photo Credit:

Table of Contents Legislative News............................2 Walgreens Bedside Delivery..........3

The discussion turned to what the future of the profession of pharmacy will be for EMSOP graduates. “I think pharmacy will continue to play an expanding role in the health care industry,” Dr. Mario said. “The

Painkillers and Pregnancy............4

continued on page 3

School News..................................6

The Importance of Being Ernest...5

New Legislation on Oral Anti-Cancer Therapy by Lauren Sparrazza, P2 On January 21, a bill was passed in New Jersey that requires insurance companies to cover oral cancer medications similar to their handling of injectable cancer medications. This will prevent hurdles that a patient would face in order to take treatments in the convenience of their own home rather than undergoing intravenous therapy at health care centers. Intravenous chemotherapy is often covered

by the health insurance plans, but oral medications fall under prescription benefits. This law will prevent insurance companies from subjecting the coverage of oral cancer medication to “any prior authorizations, dollar limits, co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance standards that do not apply to intravenously-administered or injected cancer drugs.” This law is a step forward in encouraging patients to choose their chemotherapy based on the efficacy and not the price. However, oral medications are still a significant cost burden depending on the insurance coverage. Unfortunately, this new legislation does not address the high price of these anti-cancer agents. Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans, observed that this new piece of legislation “benefits only about 30 percent of New Jerseyans with certain types of insurance. The law missed an opportunity

to broadly assist consumers who need access to care.” Oral chemotherapy has become a significant trend in drug development due to its convenience for patients and represents a quarter of the chemotherapy in development. Yet the impact of all these advances will be negated if the patients are not able to afford them. This legislation is a great advance in increasing the access to oral chemotherapy. The next step in increasing access would be to evaluate ways to decrease the cost of these beneficial agents. References: 1. Clark, L. “Bill to Guarantee Insurance Coverage for Oral Cancer Drugs is Signed Into Law.” 21 February 2012. < html> 2. Fitzgerald, B. “Gov. Christie Signs Law Covering Oral Cancer Drugs.” 18 January 2012. <>

MTM Bill Seeks Support in House of Representatives

by Jin Ah Jong, P2

In 2003, Congress approved the Medication Modernization Act (MMA), which introduced outpatient prescription drug coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in a program also known as Medicare Part D. MMA was significant in that the role of pharmacists in medication therapy management (MTM) was specifically identified in a federal law. However, it is almost a decade later, and after some advances in the enlargement of the role of the pharmacist, Congress still has not recognized the full potential of pharmacists in healthcare and their significant role in providing significant preventative cost savings. Fortunately, there are a few members of Congress who do see pharmacists as a fiscal resource. U.S. Representatives Mike Ross (D-AL) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) understand that broadening the role of pharmacists has high potential for reducing healthcare costs. Last year, Ross and Rodgers introduced H.R. 891, a bill which would allow seniors with at least one chronic condition to receive the added benefit of MTM. At this time,


only Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions are eligible for MTM. The bill cited examples where conducting MTM was shown to decrease healthcare costs as well as improve patient outcomes. In one such example, the ChecKmeds NC program in North Carolina was purported to save $10,000,000 in healthcare costs when one-to-one MTM consultations with pharmacists were introduced to 15,000 seniors in the first year.

saved in fewer hospitalizations and other costs. In another study completed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, it was found that there was about $12.15 in savings per dollar invested in MTM when MTM was implemented for 186 patients. If those savings were possibly applied to a larger number of people made eligible for MTM, the United States government could gain financial relief in today’s problematic healthcare system.

In a letter sent out in January, Ross and Rodgers urged other House of Representatives members to become cosponsors of H.R. 891. They wrote that U.S spending on prescription medications climbed to $301 billion a year (about 10% of total health costs) and that an additional $290 billion is spent dealing with the consequences of medication errors. Ross and Rodgers stated, “there is significant evidence that MTM improves care and saves money.”

So far, the bill currently has forty-two bipartisan co-sponsors. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has also shown their support of Ross and Rodgers’ letter by issuing a news release applauding the efforts of the two representatives. We too can show support by contacting our representatives and presenting our concerns in a matter that is undoubtedly important in expanding our future roles as providers of health care

To illustrate, an independent audit of the ChecKmeds NC program was performed, and it was found that for every dollar invested in pharmacists-provided MTM in the program, an average of $13.55 was

References: 1. Frederick, Jim. “Putting some teeth into MTM.” Drug Store News. 21 Feb. 2012. 28 Feb. 2012. <>. 2. “NACDS Applauds Continued Leadership of U.S. Reps.” Pharmacy Choice. Targeted News Service. 7 Feb. 2012. 28 Feb. 2012. <http://>.

Ernest Mario Interview Cont’d continued from the front page life blood of pharmacy is clinical.” He foresees a greater reliance on pharmacy clinicians and the continuing of the expansion of the CRO (contract research organization) business. “I also think pharmacy as a service will continue to expand,” he said. “Walgreens, for example, has realized that pharmacy needs to be more exposed to the public and advocates pharmacists being outside and interacting with the public.” Dr. Mario is a proponent of increasing transparency in the health care industry, and he believes pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry should be a player in this movement. He referred to the unhappiness surrounding the increased involvement of the FDA in pharmacy economics, but believes such transparency is critical. Dr. Mario stated, “Pharmacists need to interact with the public and have a very public voice in legislation. Pharmacy is a huge part of the health career stance and can change the economics greatly by bringing more economically efficient

medicines to the table. The management of healthcare costs could come from innovations of pharmacists. The average life span continues to expand, and in the last 5% of your life, 90 % of health care costs are accrued. Hence, transparency is critical in order to reduce the costs of this expensive health care.” Dr. Mario currently does not hold a fulltime position, but rather considers himself a “serial entrepreneur.” He is invested in various early stage companies where he thinks there is a prospect of making a difference, particularly in areas of serious medical need, along with his three sons. He serves on four public boards and four private boards, and also either consults with or advises several other boards. His career in pharmacy actually began after a suggestion from his father when he was a junior in high school and unsure of what course he would chart. “When I asked why, he said that I would get a license and that it would be more useful than a degree.” Since then, Dr. Mario earned his bachelor’s

and license, as well as his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Rhode Island. Initially, Dr. Mario wanted to enter retail. Then he went to work as a pharmaceutical researcher at Strasenburgh Laboratories in Rochester, NY. He explains, “The whole purpose of pharmacy was an underlying drive to improve the human condition. Initially, I was a bench chemist because my degree was in analytical and physical chemistry. The GEC mass concept was very new back then. I had a small group at Strasenburgh of four chemists and a dishwasher. We did tests of stability. This gave me my first test of management.” Dr. Mario credits his early success to three fabulous mentors he acquired at Strasenburgh who taught him to succeed, modeled incredible balance, and were “never thrown for a loop no matter what happened.” He candidly said, “I was able to surround myself with good people. When things went badly, it was always my fault. When things went well, it was because of them. Luck also makes a big difference with success. I had to be in the right place in the right time.”

continued on page 7

Walgreens Launches Bedside Delivery Program by Jennifer Kim, P1

also to align with healthcare systems.”

DeKalb Medical, a medical center in Georgia, is the most recent health care service provider that has signed on with Walgreens pharmacy to implement a new discharge medication program in order to improve patients’ care, adherence to pharmacotherapy, outcomes, and satisfaction. This innovative and comprehensive approach to lower poor adherence rates between hospital discharge and home care has been applauded by both patients and physicians.

The program has exceeded expectations thus far; 70% of patients discharged from DeKalb utilized the bedside delivery program and readmission rates were lowered. Solomon Tafari, MD, MPH, and program medical director, saw an increase of 13% in patient medication communication scores within three months. Tafari states that the 13% rise is a huge jump and is an additional bonus on top of improved patient outcomes.

In the United States, 290 billion dollars is spent per year on health care necessitated by poor patient compliance to medication regimens. The “bedside delivery upon discharge” program, initiated in July of 2011, tries to combat this cost through patient counseling. In the program, a Walgreens pharmacist personally delivers medication to a patient about to be discharged and administers counseling services at the same time. After this initial session, Walgreens conducts follow-up telephone calls to emphasize the

importance of patient compliance. According to Walgreens Vice President of Health Systems Services Ron Weinert, RPh, this service not only provides convenience to the patients, but also to those who take care of them. Patients can go straight home with their medications, and their caretakers can be aware of their drug regimens after discharge. Weinert stated that this method helps realize Walgreens’ goal, which is “to provide value and service to patients, but

The bedside delivery program of Walgreens has also been implemented in states such as Florida and Maryland. Although Take Care clinics exist in New Jersey, the discharge medication program has not yet been set up in the state. Hopefully in the near future, Walgreens will partner with a medical center in New Jersey to ultimately improve patient outcomes through pharmacists’ active participation. Reference: DeBenedette, V. “Walgreens and DeKalb Medical join in discharge medication program.” Drug Topics. 15 January 2012. <http://drugtopics. tail/756735?contextCategoryId=47558>


The Placebo Effect in the Classroom: An Novel Way of Improving Test Scores by Jazmin Turner, P1 A Florida school is employing an unusual tactic in order to improve students’ test scores on the state’s standardized testing. No, it’s not extra tutoring or prep courses – it’s something called a “FCAT power bar.” The power bar is nothing more than a cereal bar with “Warning: Improves Writing Power” printed on the label. The school is hoping that the placebo effect that occurs in medical trials will take effect when students eat the “power” bar, boosting the students’ confidence and thus enabling them to perform better on their testing. The bars are being distributed to students before the writing portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment tests at a school near Boynton Beach on Florida’s East Coast. Parents have received informational handouts about the bars, explaining how they will lead to better test scores. Although the way that the placebo effect works remains unknown, it is very real. For example, patients will experience stronger analgesic effects when taking a placebo that they believe is morphine versus a placebo that they are told is simply aspirin. Even the colors of the pills themselves have effects on how the patient will react to the treatment. Placebos can also cause real side effects and worsen conditions like real drugs do. Therefore, it is very probable that eating the bar can indeed improve students test scores. It also helps that eating breakfast is shown to improve test scores, so the students still would receive some benefit from the bar even if the placebo effect were not at play. While the details behind the placebo effect still needs to be researched, it will be interesting to see in the future how powerful the brain truly is when dealing with health and disease. Reference: Szalavitz, M. “A Florida School Seeks Better Test Scores Through Placebos.” 1 March 2012. <>


Photo Credit:

Treatment Complications of Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Pregnant Women by Hyun Seung Pyo, P1 In many rural areas such as certain parts in the state of Maine, addiction to prescription painkillers has become a large problem. The abuse of prescription medications by pregnant women is a particular concern, with an increasing number of newborns treated or watched for opiate withdrawal being reported. As a result of the mother’s abuse to the painkillers at any point in the pregnancy, newborn infants may have stiffer limbs, diarrhea, tremors and may cry more compared to normal, healthy babies. These symptoms characterize substance withdrawal and is termed “neonatal abstinence.” Hospitals use different approaches for treating newly born infants: some use methadone and others use clonidine or even morphine combined with phenobarbital because no one is certain about the best solution for this problem. Few studies on treating infant withdrawal have been conducted and the American Academy of Pediatricians has not updated guidelines on infant withdrawal treatment since 1998. Treatment of pregnant prescription drug abusers is equally problematic. Withdrawal from painkillers drastically

increases the risk of miscarriage, so quitting cold turkey is not a viable option. Since conducting experiments on pregnant women and their babies is difficult in terms of ethical reasons, there is not much known about the effects of methadone on mother and child. The child, once born, will still have to undergo methadone treatment as the drug is also addictive and the child must be weaned off. A promising substitute for methadone has been discovered in buprenorphine, which, in contrast to methadone, can be administration at home and is less likely to cause withdrawal once the infant is born. However, buprenorphine does not work in all addicts. Addicted newborns face an excruciating first few weeks of life, and it still to be determined what long-term effects opiate drugs will have on the development of babies born with the addiction. Reference: Goodnough, Abby and Katie Zezima. “Newly Born, and Withdrawing from Painkillers.” 9 April 2011. < us/10babies.html?_r=2&ref=prescriptiondrugabuse>

The Importance of Being Ernest Exploring the EMSOP Network: Where can a Pharm.D. from EMSOP lead you?

Dr. Constance Pfeiffer

Rutgers Pharmacy graduate and former professor by Sonia Lee, P1 Dr. Constance Pfeiffer is a Rutgers alumnus and current Director of Medical Services for Oncology at Bristol-Myers Squibb. However, her career has spanned a variety of practice areas, including academia and hospital pharmacy as a specialist in oncology and hematology. As the Director of Medical Services at BMS, Dr. Pfeiffer’s day-to-day responsibilities vary. She works with many different teams and participates in many meetings, including teleconferences with BMS offices in other countries such as Australia. As part of the Medical Affairs department, Dr. Pfeiffer is involved in developing strategies for educational resources for BMS products and meeting the needs of the practitioners using BMS drugs. She also helps establish BMS’s digital presence, evaluates innovative technologies, and communicates with physicians who are key opinion leaders (KOLs). Important skillsets for a job like Dr. Pfeiffer’s include the ability to communicate well with various people, including other health practitioners and company executives. It is important to be able to collaborate and negotiate in order to innovate and find the best solution to a problem or to take advantage of new opportunities. Leadership qualities are important, and, of course, clinical knowledge is needed in order to be able to dissect and analyze clinical trials. The most difficult part of Dr. Pfeiffer’s job, in her opinion, is making sure that her department is efficient. Since BMS is such a big company, it can be difficult to ensure that everybody is on the same page. Academia had similar challenges, as she had to make sure that the needs of a large class were met and that communication was maintained with the members of the class, as well as with the many clinical sites across the state. Similar to her prior job as a hospital pharmacist in oncology, the most rewarding part of working in

BMS’s oncology department is being able to positively impact cancer patients. Even though it is more indirect, Dr. Pfeiffer’s work still improves patient care. Dr. Pfeiffer’s transition from hospital pharmacy to industry was smooth, as she had previously interacted with consultants and was not totally new to how the industry worked. One helpful thing she did to facilitate her transition into her new job was to make appointments for one-on-one meetings with more experienced colleagues at BMS. By acknowledging that she did not know everything, she was able to meet a lot of new people, listen to their advice, learn from their mistakes, and get pointers about

“Being comfortable in your own skin takes practice.” certain people or situations. Overall, Dr. Pfeiffer found the BMS culture to be a very good one, as people were willing to help. Moreover, her clinical experience proved valuable. “Just because you don’t do a fellowship doesn’t mean that you can’t do industry,” she advised. “Clinical experience is valuable because [industry] wants to know what happens in the real world.” Her hospital experience enabled her to give valuable input about how patients really deal with the issues industry is evaluating. Personal experiences drew Dr. Pfeiffer to oncology/hematology, as she had some family members suffer from cancer. She also liked how oncology is such a dynamic field, one that is never boring because it is a game-changing field with constant new discoveries. For instance, while she worked in academia, there were times when she had

to update her breast cancer lecture as little as one month after presenting it. Dr. Pfeiffer found her job working with with cancer patients rewarding because everything she did felt like it had an impact. There were also those moments of great joy, such as patients celebrating years of being cancer free. Dr. Pfeiffer reflected that working with cancer patients made her a better person: “I couldn’t complain about bumps in the road in my life, compared to what [my] patients were dealing with.” Instead of getting depressed, she did what she could to make life better for them. Sometimes, just holding their hand helped. When asked about whether it was difficult to deal with emotional connections to patients, Dr. Pfeiffer admitted that despite her best efforts to remain professionally detached, it was still possible to become attached to some patients. Although naturally an introvert, Dr. Pfeiffer actually has a more extroverted personality at work. “Sometimes you’ll have a work personality that’s different,” she explains. “Push yourself into an uncomfortable area and try to be less shy. Being comfortable in your own skin takes practice. If it’s due to lack of confidence, do something like Toastmasters. You have to do things that aren’t your major talent to improve upon your skills. Don’t be afraid of rotations on topics that you aren’t good at. For instance, I didn’t like Infectious Diseases, but I made sure to do a rotation on it because it pushed me into an area that wasn’t my strong suit, and I really learned from it.” For students who are interested in Dr. Pfeiffer’s career path, she suggests finding an internship, doing a rotation at an industry site, being involved in school, and attending networking events to reach out to people and perhaps meet other fellows. “Go to events where faculty talk about different things,” she advised. “Sometimes, just meeting somebody is a good connection.”


School News

Pharmacy Organization News and Events on Campus

NCPA Offers Students Opportunities to Learn, Compete in Independent Pharmacy Management by Shana Jiang, P2 and Jentora White, P3 What does it mean to distinguish oneself by making a difference? What is to be gained by providing service and community outreach through building a unique career driven mainly by motivation and ingenuity? On Wednesday, February 29, Rutgers’ National Community Pharmacists Association chapter invited Mr. Frank Iannarone, owner and pharmacist of an independent pharmacy, The Madison

EMSOP CHRONICLES is seeking to grow its staff Wanted: Columnists Interviewers Reporters Read up on the issues and report back to the student body. Interact with faculty, students, and alumni. Write about your experiences as a student and a pharmacy professional. Low time commitment. Get your writing in print!

If you are interested in being part of EMSOP CHRONICLES, please e-mail


Pharmacy in Madison, New Jersey, to speak about “Personal Branding.” The event was open to student pharmacists of all years and was a nonconventional opportunity to listen, ask, and network with Mr. Iannarone. Mr. Iannarone, who is a Rutgers alumnus and graduate of the Rutgers School of Pharmacy, was able to offer students a rare first-hand perspective of pharmacy ownership and management. Mr. Iannarone explained there were a lot of avenues for him to pursue after graduation. The school placed a particular emphasis on industry, yet he contemplated joining the Navy, and ultimately decided to follow the family pharmacy entrepreneurial path. Thus Madison Pharmacy was born. The Madison Pharmacy caters to people of all ages, from university students to retirees, and everyone in between. It is able to thrive based on the unique services it offers to its patients and community, some of which includes unit-dose packaging and even ear piercings. One of Madison Pharmacy’s key features is its promise to patients and patrons that if an item cannot be found in the store, the store will special-order the specific item for next day pick-up. An important point Mr. Iannarone emphasized was adaptation to change. For instance, he went the extra mile to ensure that The Madison Pharmacy gained Medicare certification and is always embracing new technology in the modern medicine age. According to Mr. Iannarone, owning an independent pharmacy is as much about community involvement as it is about the rewarding healthcare aspects of his career. He is always seen and heard at municipal meetings, and he coaches softball as well. The customer and patient-relations and evolutionary growth

are what characterize the success story of Madison Pharmacy and Mr. Iannarone.

After the event, NCPA held a meeting

to build a team for students interested in the annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Business Plan Competition, a national contest that gives student pharmacists the chance to imagine and construct possibilities in creating their own independent community pharmacy. Students are encouraged to utilize critical thinking in organization of the logistics and materials necessary to open and run a hypothetical independent pharmacy. The objective is to create a blueprint to either buy an existing pharmacy or develop a new pharmacy. The creativity is unlimited and the enthusiasm is unbounded. This year there has been much student involvement, which is hoped to set Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in a good position for success. Three school chapters finalists will be selected to attend the NCPA Convention held in San Diego this year. The three finalist chapters will be announced at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Annual Meeting in July. All three finalists will receive awards. The first place winner is awarded $3000 to the NCPA student chapter and $3000 in the Dean’s name to promote independent pharmacy at the school. Participation in the competition allows the students to experience a facet of pharmacy that is not readily available to learn currently in school. Creating this plan gives students first hand experience in understanding what a potential pharmacy owner does in preparation for the opening an independent pharmacy.

Ernest Mario Interview Cont’d continued from page 3 When asked, Dr. Mario’s advice for students was: “You have to keep an open mind to everything and anything. Try not to shut down anything. Yet at the same time, you need to define goals and know what you want. These two [objectives] may seem a bit conflicting, but you have to be able to do both. We are lucky as pharmacists to have so many options: business, law, industry, government, etc. When I was a student, I was very good at focus, but as a result I lost sight of some other interesting avenues. It is okay if you change your mind because life changes. Keep your options as long as you can. But once you commit, you have to commit for real.” Reflecting upon his career, Dr. Mario names both personal and business aspects as his most memorable moments. He first mentions meeting his wife and being able to spend their life together as something extremely important to him. They have been married for 50 years and have five children and 13 grandchildren. He considers garnering the Eagle Scouts badge at the age of 16 and earning the Remington Medal (the highest recognition given in the profession of pharmacy, awarded annually by the American Pharmacists Association) as two of his greatest personal accomplishments. He also loves being a mentor, which in itself has been a reward. Finally, he cites his election to the board of ER Swift as a key moment of his business career, which was a fortune 500 company at the time. “It’s been a tremendous run for me and I feel so lucky and fortunate to have been able to accomplish this much. I have absolutely no regrets and would do this all over again.”

Dean Cintron Wows at Dancing with the Deans by Jentora White, P3 What do students, deans, and dance professionals all have in common? Great moves on the dance floor! The first annual “Dancing with the Deans” event took place on February 13th as a result of a collaborative effort from Project Civility, University Recreation, and Rutgers Against Hunger. The Deans from various Rutgers departments and schools were paired with student dancers to participate in a competition that spanned across four styles: Swing, Waltz, Tango, and Salsa. The winning pair from each style competed again for the top prize of $500 to go to the charity or cause of their choice. Dean Nancy Cintron represented the school of pharmacy performing an amazing Salsa routine with the support of students, alumni, and close friends. All proceeds raised from ticket sailes from this event went to Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH), a university initiative to address the issue of hunger across the state of New Jersey. RAH encourages students to take part in the initiative through activism and participation in food collections and fundraisers. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the general public work together to assist families and students in need through RAH. The nearly $1,600 raised by the event was put towards an emergency assistance fund for university students who have insufficient funds to purchase nutritious foods.

Dean Nancy Cintron and dance partner Jordan Seda permorming a Salsa routine.

It is not often that you see deans and students interacting outside of the usual venues. Most students feel intimidated to speak to their deans or are flat out scared to be in the presence of a dean. The beauty of this event was that it removed the reserved emotions most students experience and allowed deans and students from all areas of Rutgers to have fun for a great cause.

Editors-in-Chief: Ashley Brower, Christina Zikos Layout Editors: Jin Ah Jong, Stacy Lee, Maryann Torres, Stephanie Wang Contributing Editors: Jennifer Kim, Yixin Lin, David Salerno Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in EMSOP CHRONICLES do not reflect the views of the Pharmacy Governing Council.


Issue 4  
Issue 4  

Featuring interview of Ernest Mario, MTM bill, Dancing with the Deans and more!