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From the desk of Jon Easter, Director, Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy


Ten months ago when I started as the first ever Director of the Center for Medication Optimization through Practice and Policy, I come to the Center every day committed to realizing the potential of the Center to make a difference.  The opportunity to make a meaningful impact not only on the practice of pharmacy, but also on shaping health policy to improve health is both exciting and daunting.  As I share the progress we’ve made over the month of October, National Pharmacist Month, I must also share that many of the accomplishments are fruit born of the many seeds planted over the course of the year.

We started the month by co-hosting a briefing for federal and state policymakers at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, DC with the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.


mroth_jun15-directoryTo a standing room only crowd, Associate Professor Mary Roth McClurg, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy alumni and Vice President of Pharmacy Services for Community Care of N.C. Troy Trygstad, and Dr. Kevin Ronneberg Vice President and Associate Medical Director at Health Partners joined Ken Thorpe the Chairman of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease and Chair of the Department of Health Policy at Emory University’s School of Public Health shared how pharmacists are working as part of care teams to improve health and lower costs.  We worked with Senator Richard Burr’s staff to secure a room at the Capitol Visitors Center and share an invitation to the briefing with Congressional staff.

The next day, CMOPP convened the inaugural meeting of the Payor Policy Advisory Board (PPAB), a group of experts convened to advise CMOPP on payor perspectives on the shift to pay-for-value healthcare financing models.  Most importantly, the PPAB will advise CMOPP on establishing the “metrics that matter” to those paying for services, including those delivered by pharmacists.  The PPAB serve a two-year term as a part of an American College of Clinical Pharmacy grant Associate Professor Mary Roth McClurg is leading as the principal investigator, but we are hoping to build an ongoing advisory body to inform CMOPP’s efforts beyond the initial term of the grant.

Our outreach efforts on Capitol Hill also included meeting with Congressional staff for U.S. Congressman David Price, who represents Chapel Hill and the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.  On October 19th, Representative Price honored the Eshelman School with a visit and also spoke to PharmD students in the health policy class.

Pursuing research grants and opportunities to build the evidence base on medication optimization will be a major part of CMOPP’s efforts.  I’m happy to report we received promising news to close out the month on a potential large, multi-year grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  In September, we submitted a Letter of Intent to apply for a 5-year, $10 million grant opportunity for a pragmatic clinical study comparing pharmacist-led interventions with providers and patients coping with chronic, non-cancer pain.  Given the challenges in North Carolina and across the nation with pain management and opioid abuse, we were thrilled to receive PCORI’s positive feedback and invitation to submit a full application.  Even more appealing is that pursuing the grant is a collaboration with two top-notch principal investigators (PIs): Timothy Ives, PharmD, MPH, CPP, Director of UNC Health Pain Management clinic, professor of pharmacy at the Eshleman School of Pharmacy, and adjunct professor at the UNC School of Medicine; and Hayden Bosworth, Associate Director of the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at the Durham VA Medical Center, Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Nursing at Duke University Medical Center, and Adjunct Professor in Health Policy and Administration at UNC’s School of Public Health.

We’ve also been busy building our team at CMOPP.  Next month, I’ll dedicate my blog to introducing our growing, talented CMOPP staff and the expertise they are bringing to enhance our current efforts and expand our opportunities.

Lastly, I encourage you to follow us through this blog and our other communications on Twitter (@UNC_CMOPP), Facebook (@UNCPharmacy), and on the web (

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