Two-year-old program in URI's College of Pharmacy generating
healthy demand from students, firms
Enrollment, research funding growing
KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 23, 2000 -- It's only a few years old, but already
the University of Rhode Island's program in Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
has attracted $2 million in research funding.
"In the last two years, we've attracted funding from pharmaceutical
companies, pharmacy benefit companies, health maintenance organizations
and retail firms," said E. Paul Larrat, director of the program.
Major companies are paying attention. Larrat said URI has developed relationships
with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island, CVS, Quality Metric, and Keystone
Mercy Health Plan.
URI is also doing work with Internet pharmacy companies as well.
Students enrolled in the programs are conducting research under the guidance
of Larrat and other URI pharmacy faculty. "For example, we help managed
care companies set up policies to make decisions on how to use certain drugs,
and what works best within certain health conditions," Larrat said.
"It's a unique way to teach students," Larrat said. "It's
starting up a virtual pharmacy benefit management center through the Internet.
We have actual contracts with managed care companies."
Larrat said the goal is to make sure patients get the right care, so
that managed care firms don't wind up paying for poor or inappropriate treatments
that result in unnecessary drug costs or hospital admissions.
Research topics at URI include: inappropriate prescribing for the elderly,
internet health companies, benefit design, pharmacy network management,
claims processing with major companies, mail service pharmacies, formulary
management, drug use review, disease state management, pharmacy marketing,
health care legal issues, alternative medicine, the impact of direct-to-consumer
advertising, medication compliance, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and
The program has initiated several projects, including a comprehensive,
web-based pharmacy benefit resource and an antipsychotic guideline program.
"The projects could have an impact on the health care of millions of
people," Larrat said.
Larrat said the program evolved, in part, from a College of Pharmacy
survey among its alumni, friends and corporations to determine what skills
and strengths pharmacy graduates should possess when they leave URI. "It
came through loud and clear that graduates need more managed care instruction
and more management experience," Larrat said.
The curriculum is based upon principles, knowledge and research from
the disciplines of pharmacoeconomics and pharmacoepidemiology, which focus
on large groups and how prescribing patterns can be changed to effect higher
quality care at medically appropriate costs.
"Managed care specialists might be looking at data from a million
or more prescriptions in their research," Larrat said.
Jerry Brehany, a new member of the URI pharmacy faculty who is a pharmacist
and an attorney, said major health corporations want to know if the generalists,
such as internists, family doctors and pediatricians, are making the right
The companies are all very interested," Brehany said. "It's
real-life applied research. It's not esoteric.
"These companies aren't giving away money, and so they only want
good science. We all want to learn how best to spend the health care dollar."
Although only four students were enrolled in the program when it was
initiated three years ago, it now has 20 students at both the master's and
doctoral levels. This spring, two students earned the first Ph.D.s in pharmacoepidemiology
and pharmacoeconomics from URI.
Brehany said there is growing interest in putting such curriculum in
medical schools. "We're actually very progressive, because a lot of
pharmacy schools aren't doing this." Both Larrat and Brehany have discovered
that students who earn both the six-year, undergraduate doctor of pharmacy
degree and a URI master's degree in business administration will hold powerful
credentials. Currently, three graduates of the Pharm. D. program have applied
to the one-year, full-time MBA program in Kingston.
In addition to Larrat and Brehany, other faculty members of the Program
are Cynthia Willey Temkin, associate professor of pharmacy; Susan Andrade,
assistant professor of pharmacy and The Thomas M. Ryan/CVS Chair in Community
Pharmacy; Norman A. Campbell, professor of pharmacy; and David Lipson, associate
professor of pharmacy.
For Information: E. Paul Larrat 401-874-2789,
Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116