OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy student has created an innovative policy proposal for a national organization that addresses the emerging field of pharmacogenomics.
Cody Clifton, a second-year professional student, created the proposal for the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists. He serves as policy vice president for the organization’s local chapter.
“Pharmacogenomics testing is the use of genetic information to predict an individual’s response to a drug,” said Clifton, a Walnut native. “All drugs are not created equal, and patients who take these drugs aren’t either. Through effective application of pharmacogenomic data, we can specifically tailor drug therapy for patients.”
This is the first time in recent years that the university’s chapter of APhA-ASP has submitted a policy. As policy vice president, one of Clifton’s duties is to gather members’ interests and develop a proposal.
“It is important that our students are aware of (pharmacogenomics) in its infancy, recognizing that many medications have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to their use, and many patients with a variety of disease states would benefit from individualized medicines for treatment,” said pharmacy administration doctoral student Joseph A. Dikun, the APhA-ASP chapter’s co-adviser. “Based on the development of this policy, our students clearly are beginning to see their role as the medication expert in a variety of clinical and research settings.”
The proposed policy states: “APhA-ASP supports pharmacogenomics testing as a clinical service provided by pharmacists and the interpretation of the results to the providers and the patients by pharmacists, in order to provide individualized treatment plans to patients.”
Clifton said he used the book of APhA-ASP adopted resolutions to determine what topic the policy should cover.
“Pharmacogenomics and pharmacy was the subject that was missing from the handbook, so I took it as a great opportunity to pursue,” he said. “Also, having a medicinal chemistry class in pharmacogenomics opened my eyes to how important it is for medications to be individualized for certain patients.”
After working with Dikun and pharmacy administration graduate student Ashley Crumby to tweak the language, Clifton presented the policy at the APhA Midyear Regional Meeting, also known as MRM. He served as chapter delegate at this meeting.
“The process is very similar to bills going through the different motions to get passed at a state/national level,” Clifton said. “On the last day of MRM, at the closing business meeting, chapter delegates in region three voted to pass the resolution, along with many other resolutions. This was very exciting for us.”
After the policy passed at MRM, it went to the Resolutions Policy Committee and was voted on by eight regional delegates from across the U.S. It was passed, thus making the proposal one of the top five in the nation.
Clifton is thrilled that this proposal gives student pharmacists the “potential to become integral players in personalized health care.”
“The overall purpose of this policy is to promote the use of our clinical expertise within the field of pharmacy,” he said. “We can do this by encouraging and directing the development of technology solutions that support pharmacists’ role in pharmacogenomics.”
The policy will be voted on at APhA’s March 28-31 Annual Meeting and Exposition, during the APhA-ASP House of Delegates. If passed, the policy will be added to the organization’s adopted resolutions. Additionally, the APhA-ASP Policy Standing Committee will meet to determine the most appropriate actions to be taken on the adopted resolution, such as developing a plan to contact regulatory agencies and other national organizations.
“As pharmacists, we are the medication experts, and we do what is best for our patients,” Clifton said. “Therefore, we need to encourage and embrace this inevitable change. This topic may seem futuristic, but we need to stay ahead of the game by approaching the issue now.”