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NCPA Annual Convention honors pharmacists, students

The organization honored outstanding students and pharmacists at its 2021 Annual Convention, which was held in person.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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The National Community Pharmacists Association honored several students and pharmacists at its 2021 Annual Convention, which was held from Oct. 9 to 12 in Charlotte, N.C. 

A team of student pharmacists from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy was named the winner of the 18th annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. A team from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy was the runner-up, and a team representing the Medical University of South Carolina finished as the second runner-up.

“We applaud each of the participating teams from the 18th annual Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition, and in particular this year’s three finalists,” said NCPA president Brian Caswell, owner of Wolkar Drug in Baxter Springs, Kan. “After a highly competitive live competition, one team stood out above the rest and was declared the winner – the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy. Congratulations for rising to the top of a very strong group! With these well-thought-out business plans, the future of independent pharmacy is in good hands.”

The 2021 competition drew participants from 23 schools and colleges of pharmacy across the United States. The business plan competition is the first national competition of its kind in the pharmacy profession. The contest is named in honor of two great champions of independent community pharmacy, the late Neil Pruitt, Sr. and the late H. Joseph Schutte. Its goal is to motivate student pharmacists to create a business model for buying an existing independent community pharmacy or developing a new one. Through this competition, NCPA is helping to prepare tomorrow’s pharmacy entrepreneurs. The competition is supported by Good Neighbor Pharmacy, Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, and the NCPA Foundation.

The three finalist teams presented their business plans in a live competition on Oct. 9.  The judges for this year’s live competition were Amina Abubakar, Mike Bollinger, Steve Hoffart, Melissa Jostand, and Aimee O’Reilly.

“The NCPA Foundation helps cultivate the next generation of independent community pharmacy owners and the Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition is our crown jewel in those efforts,” said Jerry Shapiro, president of the NCPA Foundation. “Many past participants in the competition have gone into ownership and point to this experience as being an important steppingstone in achieving that goal.”

The winning team, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy, is comprised of team captain Jason Lam and team members Michael Kramer, Bobby Le, and Rachel Murray. The team adviser is Dr. Seth Heldenbrand and the dean is Cindy Stowe. Their chapter received $3,000, and an additional $3,000 was contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent community pharmacy at the college of pharmacy.

The runner-up, the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, is comprised of team captain Daniel Alonso and team members Mitchell Telles, Hector Fernandez, and Braden Kahanek. The team adviser is Dr. Nathan Pope and the dean is Sam Poloyac, PharmD, PhD. Their chapter received $2,000, and an additional $2,000 was contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent community pharmacy at the college of pharmacy.

The second runner-up, the Medical University of South Carolina, is comprised of team captain Matthew Brock and team members Erin Dougherty, Brandea Hardie, Amanda Newton, and Raymond Parker Jr. The team adviser is Dr. David Shirley and the dean is Philip Hall. Their chapter received $1,000, and an additional $1,000 was contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent community pharmacy at the college of pharmacy.

All the schools this year have participated in a previous year, and will receive an engraved plate to add to their plaque. Teams placing in the Top 10 received a special plate acknowledging this distinction.

The teams rounding out the top 10 of the competition, listed alphabetically, are the Mercer University College of Pharmacy; Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy; Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy; University of Iowa College of Pharmacy; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy; University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy; and Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy.

NCPA also honored several pharmacists.

New Jersey pharmacy owner Anthony Minniti received this year’s NARD Ownership Award from the National Community Pharmacists Association Foundation.

The NARD Ownership Award recognizes an independent community pharmacist who embraces entrepreneurial spirit through promotion and demonstrated excellence in the field of community pharmacy ownership. NARD, or the National Association of Retail Druggists, was for a century the name associated with independent pharmacy. The organization was founded in 1898, and now as NCPA, represents the nation’s community pharmacists.

Minniti’s career path began in 1984 at age 14 when he went to work with his grandfather, Bernardo Doganiero, at his pharmacy in Camden, N.J. Minniti developed a passion for pharmacy as well as the city of Camden. He graduated from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science (his grandfather’s alma mater) in 1993 and became a partner in his grandfather’s business. In 1997, the family purchased Bell Pharmacy, the oldest pharmacy in the city of Camden. Today, Minniti owns Bell Pharmacy with his sister and pharmacist, Marian Morton. Bell is currently celebrating its 90th year in business.

Minniti is known for having a close relationship with the community and an innovative approach to the business of pharmacy. He has positioned Bell Pharmacy as a community health care hub that facilitates access to care. To ease medical transportation issues Minniti purchased a non-emergency medical transport company and integrated it into Bell Pharmacy’s service offerings. He partnered with community organization Parkside Business and Community in Partnership to develop a COVID-19 vaccination program tailored to his community, focusing on vaccine education and hesitancy issues.

Minniti also collaborated with Camden Area Health Education Center to establish a first-of-its-kind pharmacy-based pre-exposure prophylaxis clinic with the goal of allowing streamlined access for at-risk patients. It is the centerpiece of Bell Pharmacy’s LGBTQ concierge services program. The clinic was recognized by the New Jersey Department of Health as a model in the state’s efforts to end HIV by 2025 and was the recipient of the Community Pharmacy Innovation in Quality Award by the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. Minniti was an early advocate of pharmacists providing naloxone (Narcan) as a prophylactic and co-prescribing it with narcotic prescriptions. This practice has been formally adopted statewide in New Jersey. He also has been working to establish a pharmacy-based cannabis dispensary. As part of that effort, Minniti supported legislation creating a program to identify pharmacies for dispensary licenses.

He extends community engagement beyond the pharmacy, serving as a volunteer board member of the Camden Schools Foundation and sponsoring scholarships for Camden students. Minniti is a retired elected official (a 16-year Township Committee member with four one-year terms as mayor) and understands the importance of political involvement. He is a member of the Independent Pharmacy Alliance Governmental Affairs Board and currently serves as president of IPA-NJRxPAC, which supports candidates who advocate for issues important to independent community pharmacists.

Minniti believes in bringing community pharmacy back to its roots as a primary health resource and works to highlight the critical importance of independent community pharmacies in improving health outcomes. His commitment to the advancement of the profession was recognized by the New Jersey Pharmacists Association as the recipient of the 2021 National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations Award, given to a practicing NJPhA member and pharmacist within New Jersey who has demonstrated innovative pharmacy practice resulting in improved patient care. He was also named the NJPhA 2021 Independent Pharmacist of the Year, an award presented to a practicing pharmacist who has demonstrated exemplary service to his/her patients and the community.

NCPA also honored Martika Martin of Danhauer Drugs and Health Equipment in Owensboro, Ky. She was presented with the 2021 NCPA Innovation Center Outstanding Adherence Practitioner Award in recognition of her commitment to improving medication adherence. The award is sponsored by RxSafe.

“Martika and her team at Danhauer Drugs are taking a proactive approach to improving patient health outcomes by helping them take their medications as prescribed,” said Caswell. “Patients are signing up for these services, and health care colleagues are taking note of their success. I am happy to recognize Martika for this work in engaging patients and helping them manage their health.”

Martin has grown two adherence programs over the last year: medication synchronization and custom packaging. Med sync allows patients to pick up all ongoing prescription refills at the pharmacy on a single, convenient day each month and work closely with the pharmacist on sticking to their medication regimen.

NCPA noted that Martin focuses on a team-based approach to enrolling patients in the program, ensuring staff members are familiar with them and can answer questions. They identify and contact patients who would benefit and advertise these services through educational bag stuffers. Martin also delegated the pharmacy’s lead technician to discuss custom packaging weekly on three different radio stations.

When Martin started at Danhauer Drugs, its custom packaging program had roughly 300 patients and its med sync had approximately 50 patients enrolled. As a result of their efforts to grow the programs, the pharmacy now has more than 950 patients enrolled. Other health care providers in the area have started noticing the difference the pharmacy is making for patients’ health outcomes and are actively referring patients to the pharmacy for its adherence services.

"I’m thrilled to once again join the NCPA Innovation Center in sponsoring the Outstanding Adherence Practitioner Award,” said RxSafe founder and CEO, William Holmes. “Martika Martin is a great example of how improving adherence can transform community pharmacy, by empowering patients to become proactive partners in improving health outcomes. Martika and her staff have demonstrated the teamwork, dedication, and diligence for which independent pharmacies are best known and loved.”

The winner of the NCPA Innovation Center Outstanding Adherence Practitioner Award receives an engraved commemorative plaque and complimentary registration, accommodation, and travel to the NCPA Annual Convention. Additionally, a donation of $1,000 will be made to a school or college of pharmacy of the award recipient’s choice. At Martin’s request, NCPA will be donating to Sullivan University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences in Louisville, Ky.

The NCPA Foundation bestowed the 2021 Outstanding Faculty Liaison of the Year award to Pamela Stamm, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy. The award recognizes a faculty liaison who demonstrates exceptional leadership and commitment to independent pharmacy, their NCPA Student Chapter, and the community. This marks the first time a faculty member from the Harrison School of Pharmacy has won the award.

Stamm has been an adviser of the Auburn University NCPA chapter since 2005. She has enjoyed watching the chapter evolve, promoting advocacy and networking with pharmacists throughout the state, and mentoring chapter leaders and members to help achieve goals beyond their imagination.

Georgia pharmacist Nikki Adams Bryant, owner of Adams Family Pharmacy in Preston, Adams Family Pharmacy Too in Cuthbert, and a rural primary care clinic, Preston Family Medicine, was honored as the recipient of the 2021 National Preceptor of the Year Award. 

Finally, Lonny Wilson, who lived in Edmond, Okla., was posthumously awarded the 2021 John W. Dargavel Medal.

Wilson, who owned multiple retail pharmacies during his lifetime, passed away on Jan. 25, 2021. He served as president of NCPA from 2011-2012 and chaired various NCPA committees over the past 20 years.

McKesson sponsors the annual award that honors an individual whose contributions on behalf of independent pharmacy embody the spirit of leadership and accomplishment personified by John W. Dargavel, who was executive secretary of the National Association of Retail Druggists, now NCPA, from 1933-1961. In fact, the NCPA Foundation was established in 1953 to honor Dargavel. 

Wilson’s leadership and contributions to the pharmacy profession made him a perfect recipient for the Dargavel Medal Award, noted NCPA He received his degree in pharmacy in 1973 from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. From 1989-2018 Wilson served as the CEO of Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma, which focuses on providing cost containment strategies and information management systems for retail community pharmacies nationwide. The company was formed in 1985 and provides services to over 3,800 pharmacies nationwide.

Wilson served as president of RxLinc, which provides national claims transmission, ePrescribe transmission and data management services, from 1998-2018, and as chairman of Mirixa, a leading developer of innovative clinical solutions that facilitate pharmacist-based patient care services, from 2009-2012. Wilson also served on the SureScripts Pharmacy Advisory Council, the industry leader in today’s prescriber electronic medical records initiative.