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ICHP Leadership Spotlight
Liz Harthan, PharmD, BCPS
What is your leadership position in ICHP?
I am the West Central Society President. In this role, I organize the local CPE meetings, manage local funds, and try to engage local members to take part in state wide events.
Where is your practice site?
I am the Anticoagulation Pharmacotherapist Coordinator at OSF Healthcare. The easiest way to describe my job is a medication safety pharmacist with a single focus on anticoagulants. My goal is to ensure our pharmacists and other healthcare providers have the tools and knowledge they need to use anticoagulants safely.
What pharmacy related issues keep you up at night?
Prescription drug pricing and medication shortages are something that has affected my professional life, as it has all pharmacists, but they have also affected my family. My mom has Wilson’s disease and has been taking penicillamine for over 40 years. Prior to about 8 years ago, this orphan drug cost around $350 per month. Her insurance company treated this as a tier 3 medication and she had a very reasonable co-pay. This was one of those drugs that saw a 2700% price increase almost overnight for no apparent reason other than drug company profit. My mom’s reasonable co-pay became completely unaffordable. Additionally, this drug began showing up on and off the shortage list. Luckily, she is a well-educated person with a pharmacist for a daughter. We have been able to jump through the correct hoops, fill out loads of paperwork, contact pharmacy suppliers, and mostly keep her with a regular supply of medication. I am absolutely certain there are patients who require this drug that are unable to maneuver the unreasonable cost increases and drug shortages, and have had to go without treatment. I worry about my mom and the other patients who have been negatively affected by corporate greed.
What is a challenge that you face in your practice?
One of the particular challenges I faced was helping our health system determine the best formulary choice for the oral Factor Xa inhibitor reversal. On the surface, this would seem like an easy choice. Choose an FDA approved reversal agent or continue using a product off-label. Unfortunately, the choice was not that straightforward. Extreme drug costs, challenging pharmacokinetics, and a complex patient population made the decision all the more challenging. In the end, I believe we made the best choice for our health system by completing a thorough evaluation of safety, efficacy, and cost and selected the non-FDA indicated drug. However, I can say it was the most difficult formulary decision of which I have been a part.
What makes ICHP great?
ICHP is great because it provides an easy way for you to get involved. There are so many opportunities to take a leadership role without feeling like you have committed all of your free time. It’s really easy to start off simply by becoming a site champion. From there you can try out new roles and opportunities.
What initially motivated you to get involved in ICHP?
My co-workers! I saw many of my co-workers getting involved in ICHP, networking with other pharmacists across the state, and gaining leadership experience. I was almost jealous, but realized it was easy for me to be able to do the same.
What advice would you give to student pharmacists?
Pharmacy is such a small world. The bridges you build or burn as a student will impact the opportunities you seek, as you move forward in your career. As the job field becomes more competitive, use your P4 year as a spring board for beginning a successful profession. Before picking rotations, do your homework. What areas of pharmacy do you want to explore? What would truly be a good fit for you? Don’t just pick the rotation that sounds exciting. Pick the one that will give insight into your future job or help you take the next steps. If you want to work in a hospital, check out different settings. Do you like the atmosphere of critical care or critical access? Are you interested in residency? Try to select rotations where you would consider applying for residency or where there are residents so you can ask for their advice. There are so many opportunities in pharmacy, but make your years as a student count!
Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of work?
I really enjoy cooking (not to be confused with baking). However, with two small children, I don’t get to be as adventurous in my recipe selection as I once was. I do still enjoy trying new things and cooking for my family.
What is the most interesting/unique fact about yourself that few people know?
I really love pizza, but I’m a total pizza snob so I rarely eat it. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs eating real pizza. :)