This week the Biden administration announced that an additional 1 million doses of COVID vaccines will be sent to 6,500 pharmacies across the country to ramp up immunization rates. Due to the Prep Act, pharmacy technicians are now authorized to administer COVID and other critical vaccinations in all 50 states – but only after HHS approved immunization training.
ACA now offers convenient, HHS-approved Vaccine Administration Training for Pharmacy Technicians with a member discount via its online Education Center: acainfo.org/vaccinetech
This training, which was developed by the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA), is HHS approved and will allow Technicians to vaccinate children under 18 years and the COVID-19 vaccine. This training is also recognized as fulfilling the education requirements for the PTCB Immunization Administration Assessment-Based Certificate Program.
Become a Ready Reserve Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service
The Ready Reserve Corps offers a unique opportunity for its officers to serve their local community as well as their country in times of public health emergencies or in underserved areas. This is an excellent opportunity for pharmacist graduates who are interested in public service but are not able to commit to be a full-time officer.
I always envisioned owning my own business and when I graduated from pharmacy school in 2010, that was my long term goal.
I really enjoyed my compounding rotation in 2009 and decided that’s exactly what I wanted to focus on. Luckily, my preceptor (and fellow independent pharmacy owner) sat down and asked me what my career goals were. When I told him I wanted to open a compounding pharmacy just like his, he took a real interest in teaching me the business side of things. During that rotation, I was blessed with the opportunity to not just learn how to compound medications, but also how to start a business. I believed in creating a business in my own community where you can really make a difference. Every decision I make has a real impact on how healthcare is done in my small town and I think that is a really great thing. It has been the best decision I made in my professional career.
2) Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your pharmacy colleagues?
I am proud to say I am a sudden cardiac arrest survivor. It feels surreal to even say those words but this is something I get the craziest looks when I mention it. I was training to run my first half marathon in 2017 so I signed up for a smaller 10k run first. Towards the end of the race, I saw the finish line approaching and was enjoying the scenery. The next thing I knew, I woke up from what I thought was a long nap not knowing where I was. I was in shock when my wife told me what happened. In the end, I needed heart surgery to fix a rare congenital heart mutation and I am back to 100%. My wife and I are so grateful for my 2nd chance at life and that contributes to my positive attitude when I go into work everyday.
3) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best advice I ever received was to do things the right way and not cut corners. This advice can apply to all aspects of life, but it is definitely helpful in my pharmacy. We always invest in staff training and new pharmacy equipment so our compounded medications will be the best quality possible. In the end, your patients will have better outcomes and the great feedback will eventually get back to their doctors.
A new Vice-President and four directors have been named to the American College of Apothecaries (ACA) Board of Directors. The ACA Board of Directors is made up of ACA Fellows representing 8 geographical regions of the United States and Canada and Executive Officers.
Elections for board Vice-President and Regional Directors for regions 2, 3, 4, and 8 were conducted in November among the Fellows and Pharmacist Members. Regional Directors will serve three-year terms commencing in 2021. Board officers will be installed at the ACA | ACVP | PPHI Virtual Annual Conference and Expo, February 25-27, 2021
“During these challenging times, we are honored and grateful for the willingness of our newly elected and re-elected board members to serve the College,” said ACA CEO | Executive Vice-President Susan Bartlemay. “Their commitment to independent pharmacy and dedication to our organization is crucial to the success of ACA.”
Suzanne Keyes, PharmD, FACA, IFMCP – Vice President
Suzanne graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University College of Pharmacy in 1996 and returned to academia in 1999 enrolling in the non-traditional Doctor of Pharmacy pathway offered through the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy. In 2004, she graduated with her Doctor of Pharmacy, the highest degree offered to pharmacists.
Suzanne has had 20 years’ experience in varied pharmacy settings; retail management for a chain drugstore, nursing home consultant, hospital pharmacist and her current position as the lead functional medicine pharmacist in her compounding pharmacy in Western Oklahoma. Suzanne’s passion to get to the underlying cause of disease is what drove her to pursue advanced education and become the seventh pharmacist in the world to become a certified practitioner through the Institute for Functional Medicine. Suzanne is a Fellow of the American College of Apothecaries and she has been an ACA Regional Director since 2017.
Suzanne has been honored with invitations to speak about functional medicine at the former International Association of Compounding Pharmacists (now Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding) and the National Association of Community Pharmacists (NCPA). In the last few years, Dr. Keyes’ has been interviewed and her practice highlighted online by both Dr. Blair Thielemier (Pharmapreneur Academy; Elevate Pharmacy Summit) and Dr. Alex Barker (The Happy PharmD). In 2016, Dr. Keyes was selected by Ortho Molecular Products as the 2016 “Spotlight Pharmacist of the Year”.
Kimberly Ferguson, RPh, FACA – Region 2 (District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia)
Kim Ferguson is the owner of Kim’s Pharmacy in Waynesville, NC and Metcalf Compounding Pharmacy in Brevard, NC. Kim graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a BS in pharmacy in 1990 and worked at various settings across Western North Carolina before founding Kim’s Pharmacy in 2008 and purchasing Metcalf Compounding Pharmacy in 2017. In addition to her duties at both pharmacies, Kim is also a preceptor for UNC and the pharmacist member of Haywood County Health and Human Services where she serves as Vice Chairperson.
In addition to membership in the Independent Pharmacy Network of North Carolina Association Of Pharmacists and National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA), she has served as Region 2 Director of American College of Apothecaries. Kim has been a Fellow of ACA since 2017.
Robert Harshbarger, III, PharmD, FACA – Region 3 (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin)
Robert completed his undergraduate studies at East Tennessee State University where he graduated with degrees in both Biology and Chemistry. He then attended Mercer University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in 2011 and graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Robert started his career as a staff pharmacist for Custom Compounding Centers of America (CCCA). He currently serves as CEO and lead formulating chemist of Premier Pharmacy Inc in Kingsport, Tennessee. He has successfully assisted both CCCA and Premier Pharmacy in becoming PCAB accredited as well as assisting both pharmacies through the NABP VPP process. As a member of his local chamber of commerce’s government relations committee, he serves as a liaison between the local pharmacy community and Tennessee elected officials on the local, state and federal level.
As a second generation pharmacist, Robert has seen the profession of pharmacy change immensely over time, especially within the last 5 years. He has been fortunate enough to practice in a compounding only and hybrid pharmacy setting as well as cash only and insurance based business models. Robert relies on his discernment and personal experiences as well as the experiences of others to ensure he defends his pharmacy clinically and ethically. Over the past 10 years, he has worked diligently towards ensuring that the art and science of compounding is defended in the same manner. This is Robert’s first term on the ACA Board of Directors.
Nicholas R. Smock, PharmD, MBA, FACA – Region 4 (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota)
Nick Smock received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Missouri in 1983, his Masters of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1990, and his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2002. He serves as the President and CEO of the Pharmacy Buying Association (PBA), a pharmacy member co-op, since 1998 and previously served as Vice President, COO, CFO and Director of Contracts. Nick spent several years as a practicing pharmacist prior to joining PBA/TrueCare. Nick has served as an ACA Regional Director since 2017.
Ben Smith, RPh, FACA – Region 8 (Canada)
Ben Smith is the owner of a dozen pharmacies scattered throughout small towns in central Ontario. He graduated from pharmacy school at the University of Toronto in 1966 and purchased his first pharmacy in 1979 in a small community in Ontario. He attributes his achievements to an old-fashioned recipe of hard work, long hours, ongoing continuing education, generously giving back to the communities his pharmacies serve, being as accessible as possible to patients, and cultivating strong personal relationships with local physicians. Ben served the ACA as President in 2013 and Chairman in 2014. He has served on the ACA Admission Committee for many years and on numerous ACA committees. He is also a member of the Ontario Pharmacists Association and the Canadian Pharmaceutical Association. Ben has served several terms on the ACA Board, most recently since 2017.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The leaders of 18 pharmacy organizations today issued the following statement following the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the first Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We heartily welcome the decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize the emergency use of the first COVID-19 vaccine, following the recommendation of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC).
“This is a historic moment in the nation’s effort to end the pandemic. The pharmacy profession is ready to do its part as qualified, active participants in administering these vaccines in accordance with guidance issued by the FDA, CDC, HHS and state and local health departments, as well as increasing access for the American public to these important disease prevention tools.
“We are confident that FDA has taken extraordinary care to ensure that the vaccine is safe and effective. The American people should have great confidence in the vaccine. The vast majority of pharmacists have indicated in recent surveys that they intend to be vaccinated themselves and plan to recommend the vaccine to their patients. More than 360,000 pharmacists, student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians nationwide are trained to administer vaccines.
“Pharmacists are the most accessible health care providers in the nation, with 90% of Americans living within 5 miles of pharmacy. Across the nation they stand ready, in all patient care settings, to administer the vaccine and counsel patients through this critical moment in our nation’s history. As trusted health professionals dedicated to serving the health care needs of our communities, we stand ready to serve.”
Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
American College of Apothecaries
American College of Clinical Pharmacy
American Pharmacists Association
American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists
Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association
National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of Specialty Pharmacy
National Community Pharmacists Association
National Pharmaceutical Association
Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists
Pharmacy Quality Alliance
“This is wonderful news for our patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies. It is great to have a unanimous decision from the Supreme Court validating rights for states to regulate PBMs. This is a big win for pharmacy and we need to work with states to implement laws which will improve our ability to continue to care for our patients,” said Susie Bartlemay, Executive Vice-President of the American College of Apothecaries, American College of Veterinary Pharmacists, and the American College of Apothecaries Research and Education Foundation.
The unanimous (8 to 0) decision ruled in favor of the interests of patients and community pharmacies, who have been fighting for years to regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the controversial middlemen that manage prescription drug benefits for health insurers, Medicare Part D drug plans, and large employers. With this ruling, states will have greater authority to protect their local businesses and their patients from PBM overreach.
“This is a historic victory for independent pharmacies and their patients. And it confirms the rights of states to enact reasonable regulations in the name of fair competition and public health,” saidNational Community Pharmacists Association CEO B. Douglas Hoey, pharmacist, MBA.
“This is a great day for pharmacists and their patients,” said Scott J. Knoer, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association. “For years, PBMs have threatened the sacrosanct relationship between pharmacists and their patients and have never been forced to answer to any authority for their actions. This opinion redresses that imbalance and returns the power to protect the interests of patients to the states and other local authorities, where it belongs.”
“We’re excited to see a unanimous decision from the Court on this case – it’s truly a best case scenario for patients, pharmacists, and pharmacies,” said Rebecca Snead, RPh, NASPA executive vice president and CEO. “Now, it’s time to get to work to make sure states have appropriate PBM regulations in place, and continue to work with our members of Congress to do the same for the federal programs.”
“Today, Arkansas pharmacists join their colleagues across the country to celebrate a triumphant victory years in the making,” said Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO John Vinson. “The Supreme Court’s ruling means that states can finally protect our patients who receive their pharmacy benefits through their employers. This win should increase drug pricing transparency, increase pharmacy access for patients, improve freedom of choice, and improve the healthcare for our citizens both during and after the pandemic.”
At issue was the extent to which the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), which regulates private employee benefit plans, preempts the states from regulating the amount that PBMs pay pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs that are covered by an employer-sponsored health plan.
In 2015, Arkansas passed a law prohibiting PBMs from reimbursing local pharmacies at a lower rate than what the pharmacies pay to fill prescriptions. Before the bill was enacted, PBMs were found to reimburse pharmacies at less than a pharmacy’s cost to acquire a drug. This and other pressures have contributed to more than 16 percent of rural independent pharmacies across the country closing their doors in recent years. In Arkansas, nearly 13 percent of the independent pharmacies closed between 2006 and 2014 alone. The PBM lobby, PCMA, challenged the law in court, which is when the pharmacy groups joined efforts to ensure the 2015 law stands. NCPA, APA, APhA, NASPA, and all state pharmacy associations jointly commissioned an amicus brief to support Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s appeal to allow the implementation of the 2015 legislation that prohibited PBMs from paying pharmacies below cost and allowed pharmacies to refuse to dispense below cost prescriptions.