Institute Targets Pharmaceutical Outcomes, Policy

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 13, 2010)  In 2010, prescription drug costs in the United States are expected to exceed $300 billion. However, the cost is not just in dollars. Each year, thousands of patients die of adverse effects from medication.

The University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science has announced the creation of the Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (iPOP) which will focus on improving health-related medication outcomes of individuals and populations in Kentucky and beyond. Researchers at the institute will translate science into policy and outcomes through research, consultation, training, and community outreach targeting safe, efficient, and effective use of medications.

The institute will incorporate the college’s Research and Data Management Center (RDMC), using its current operational infrastructure. RDMC was created in 1992 when pharmacy faculty and staff contracted with the Kentucky Department for Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services to develop a statewide hospital information system. They also developed outcomes and performance measurement systems used to assist in medication evaluations and decision-making. The success of RDMC’s work with Kentucky’s state-funded psychiatric hospitals led the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors to contract with RDMC for the design and implementation of a national system measuring the performance of psychiatric inpatient facilities.

The institute (and former RDMC) employs over 40 professional staff, researchers and students engaged in pharmaceutical outcomes and policy projects either grant-funded or contracted with Kentucky Medicaid, UK HealthCare, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services, the Urban Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, UK Human Resources and the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science. The institute's projects include the development of decision support technology, data warehousing, business analysis tools, policy analysis and program evaluations.

The institute comprises 17 Pharmacy Practice and Science graduate program faculty specializing in policy and political science, epidemiology and behavioral science, as well as clinical therapeutics, pharmacy law, clinical research regulation, ethics, and community and institutional pharmacy practice. In addition, partnerships will be pursued with practitioners and policy makers throughout the Commonwealth to complement the program.

An important component of the new institute is the Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (POP) Graduate Program. The graduate program, currently one of four tracks of study as part of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program, enrolled its first two students this fall.

“Graduates from the POP program will be prepared to work in all areas related to assessing the risks and benefits associated with medication use, and the development of policies promoting appropriate medication use and curtailing inappropriate use,” said Jeffery Talbert, director of the institute and coordinator of the graduate program. The program also focuses on pharmaceutical policy related issues such as the government regulation of pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical company costs associated with bringing a new product to market, direct advertising of prescription medications to consumers and translating scientific discovery into evidence-based practice. 

“There is a tremendous need in the pharmaceutical industry, state and national government agencies, academia and the private sector to address these issues and graduates with a strong background in policy planning and analysis as well as an understanding of the unique regulatory and market environments for pharmaceuticals will be ideally positioned to fill this need,” Talbert said. “Our goal is for this program to become a center for scholars around the world who wish to advance or refine their skills in the academic strengths of the institute.”

The UK College of Pharmacy is ranked among the top five pharmacy schools in the nation and students graduating from the program have consistently had the highest first time pass-rates in the United States on the national licensing board exam (NAPLEX). The college is an international leader in pharmacy education, clinical care and pharmaceutical research and currently enrolls 514 students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program as well as 72 students in the UK Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Program (Ph.D.). The new 286,000-squrae-foot College of Pharmacy is a state-of-the-art academic and research facility and will open to students in January 2010.