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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI pharmacy symposium to feature inventor of popular pain, anticonvulsant medication

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Sept. 14 program is free, open to public

KINGSTON, R.I. – August 22, 2012 – The inventor of a popular anticonvulsant and pain medication will be among six speakers at a symposium being offered Friday, Sept. 14 by the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.

Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, will speak at 10 a.m. The entire program, “Drug Therapy in the 21st Century: Discovery and Clinical Use,” is free and open to the public, but is intended for a professional/scientific audience. Those wishing to attend must register at http://www.uri.edu/pharmacy/symposium/registration.html. It starts at 8 a.m. and runs through 5.30 p.m. at the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, Thomas M. Ryan Family Auditorium, 120 Flagg Road, Kingston.

The event is one of several planned to celebrate the new $75 million pharmacy building, which is set to open Sept. 4. There will also be an international pharmacy conference Sept. 28 through 30. For details, go to http://www.uri.edu/pharmacy/frontiers/2012/index.html.

“Our Sept. 14 symposium will provide a complete view of drug discovery and development,” said Pharmacy Professor Bongsup Cho, a symposium coordinator. “We invite pharmacy students and faculty, as well as professionals in other health care fields to learn about emerging strategies in drug discovery and development. The audience will hear from experts on the newest service models and pharmacy practice advancements that will improve quality and safety and promote human wellness in the decades to come.”

Silverman, the second speaker on the schedule, has just elucidated the exact inactivation mechanism for an experimental drug, CPP-115, which is in clinical trials for addiction and epilepsy. This recent breakthrough is the topic of his talk titled “CPP-115: A GABA Aminotransferase Inactivator and New Treatment for Addiction and Epilepsy.”

He is the developer of pregabalin, known as the medication Lyrica, the first approved treatment for fibromyalgia.

J. Lyle Bootman, senior vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Arizona, will give the keynote address, “Value-based Health Care and the Empowered Consumer” at 8:45 a.m.

Bootman is also professor of pharmacy, medicine and public health, and founding and executive director of the University of Arizona Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomic (HOPE) Research, one of the first such centers developed in the world.

“Dean Bootman is the pioneer in the field of pharmacoeconmics and health outcomes,” said URI Pharmacy Professor Stephen Kogut, another symposium coordinator. “He has written the fundamental textbook on this topic, which our students and faculty use today. His talk will focus on the cost and outcomes of medical decisions. His vision for the future is one that empowers patients to make better decisions when navigating the health care system, aided by better information relative to health outcomes and cost.”

Pharmacy Professor Norma Owens, another symposium coordinator, said the morning sessions are focused on new drug discovery as well as the drug marketing/manufacturing processes.

“The afternoon speakers are a different breed of scientists - clinicians who have a wealth of experience in the application of the science of drug discovery to patient care-related issues,” Owens said.

The remaining schedule is as follows:

• 10:55 a.m., Richard Lalonde, vice president and global head of Clinical Pharmacology at Pfizer Inc., “Challenges in Clinical Drug Development: An Opportunity for Quantitative Scientists and Clinicians”

• 11:45 a.m., Lunch and tour of the new pharmacy building

• 1 p.m., John LaMattina, senior partner at Pure Tech Ventures, “What Does the Future Look Like for the Pharmaceutical Industry”?

• 1:55 p.m., Tom Semla, clinical pharmacy specialist, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Pharmacy Benefits Management Service, “Connecting the Dots between Clinical Trials and Practice: An Opportunity for Pharmacy”

Owens said Semla’s talk will help the audience better understand how to measure drug response in a patient.

“This is a critical component in health care because new medications are very expensive and sometimes the positive benefit they should have in an individual patient is difficult to assess,” Owens said. “For instance, in treating Alzheimer’s disease, our goals in using the available drugs for a patient are to prevent cognitive decline (the present therapy does not provide a cure or anything close to that). In an individual patient with Alzheimer’s disease, how do you know you’ve prevented decline? The patient is going to decline anyway but the drug is supposed to slow that somewhat. So, the question remains, how do you know if the drug is helping a patient?”

• 2:50 p.m., Marie Smith, assistant dean for Practice and Public Policy Partnerships, Dr. Henry A. Palmer Professor of Community Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, “Patient-Centered Health Care: Pharmacist Opportunities and Challenges”

• 3:45 p.m., Panel discussion and post-symposium reception.