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Beyond just community pharmacy, Cardinal Health’s commitment extends to the very communities it serves

SEATTLE — As the healthcare services powerhouse it has grown to become over the decades, Cardinal Health serves a wide range of customers in a variety of channels, from retail pharmacy to hospitals and health systems. But its impact on community pharmacy extends far beyond its role as an integral linchpin in our nation’s healthcare supply chain. From supporting future generations of pharmacists through scholarship programs to funding programs that combat prescription drug abuse, to local assistance in the wake of natural disasters — such as Hurricane Sandy—Cardinal Health’s commitment to the communities it serves was once again on display, earlier this month, at the Cardinal Health 2013 Retail Business Conference held in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center from Aug. 7 to 10.

During Cardinal Health RBC 2013, Pervez Siddiqui of Healthways Pharmacy in Brooklyn, N.Y., shared a personal story of how Cardinal Health worked with his pharmacy and other customers throughout the Northeast who were affected by Hurricane Sandy to help them rebuild after the storm (for more see video).

The company also announced that it would donate more than $625,000 in scholarship funding through the Cardinal Health Pharmacy Scholarship Program to six pharmacy schools.

The schools were selected based on their commitment to advancing independent pharmacy, with each school offering curricula focused on operating an independent pharmacy; supporting student-run chapters of the National Community Pharmacists Association; endorsing internship and co-op programs with local independent pharmacies; and demonstrating high post-graduate placement rates in independent pharmacy settings.

"Cardinal Health is dedicated to supporting the essential role community pharmacists play in delivering superior care to patients every day," Cardinal Health Pharmaceutical segment CEO Mike Kaufmann said. "These universities are leaders in developing the future of independent pharmacy, and we're proud to support the growth and education of their best and brightest students."

Since the program’s launch in June 2011, the Cardinal Health Pharmacy Scholarship Program has provided nearly $2.2 million in assistance to more than 20 universities.

Another area in which Cardinal Health continues to show a major commitment to is prescription drug abuse prevention. Through the Generation Rx Initiative, which it partnered with The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy to create in 2007, the Cardinal Health Foundation is working to enhance medication safety and combat the increasing misuse and abuse of prescription drugs through special educational programs and tool kits that are available to the public at no cost.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of men and women who died from prescription painkiller overdoses in 2010 increased by 265% and 400%, respectively, over 1999 for a total of nearly 17,000 deaths. But prescription drugs are also a common target of abuse among college students. In May, a survey commissioned by the Digital Citizens Alliance and conducted by Zogby Analytics found that 1-in-3 students reported taking prescription drugs to get through finals.

Such grim statistics are a key reason why Generation Rx had its own booth at Cardinal Health RBC this year; so that Cardinal Health customers could become better engaged with the program and educate customers in their communities about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

The Generation Rx booth encouraged community pharmacists to get involved in the program and to tap into its easy-to-use materials to educate their communities about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The booth also promoted a new tool kit the Cardinal Health Foundation developed in April with The Ohio State University , which is designed to help college students, faculty and staff educate others about prescription drug abuse among people ages 18 years to 25 years. The program — which was created by and for college students — includes such resources as PowerPoint presentations, scripts, workbooks, handouts and posters, as well as a guide for creating reality-based skits/question-and-answer sessions to role-play through different scenarios.

"The average age when prescription drug abuse starts is around 21," The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy assistant dean for professional and external affairs Ken Hale explained. "It's critical that our colleges and universities do more to help prevent this potentially deadly behavior, and this new tool kit is designed to help them do that."

In 2008, Cardinal Health launched the GenerationRx Champion Award encouraging state pharmacy associations to recognize pharmacists who are raising awareness and educating their communities about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse. More than 40 states are participating in the program and eight pharmacists were recognized at RBC: Phil LaFoy, Lelan Stice, Jerry Callahan, Eric Hewitt, Anthony Dougalas, Donald Comfort and Jeffery Jerkins.

Also in April, during the American Pharmacists Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Los Angeles, the Cardinal Health Foundation and APhA awarded the second annual Generation Rx Award of Excellence, recognizing one pharmacist for his or her outstanding efforts in prescription drug abuse prevention. This year’s recipient, Anthony Tommasello, BSPharm, PhD, FAPHA, was chosen for his extensive research and education over the course of his career on a wide range of patient populations at risk for substance abuse.

In addition to Tommasello, APhA and Cardinal Health also awarded three of its annual APhA-ASP Generation Rx Awards — which recognize use of the Generation Rx tool kit — to the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The schools were chosen from among the 128 APhA Academy of Student Pharmacist Chapters. Eight other schools received regional awards.

The Cardinal Health Foundation in April also invited local nonprofit organizations to apply for funding for programs to raise awareness and promote education on prescription drug abuse prevention, with grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

“This grant funding will empower grassroots initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse, so we can help put an end to this deadly epidemic,” said Betsy Walker, community relations manager for Cardinal Health.

Cardinal Health and the Cardinal Health Foundation have invested nearly $3.5 million in Generation Rx’s six year history.

To keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.


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