Member News

Member News

News for MPA members, including opportunities, volunteer activities, ways to get involved, members in the news, nomination and election information, local association updates and more.

Michigan’s Virus Cases Are Out of Control, Putting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a Bind

Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, locked down her state over the din of protests last year. Now she is trying a different approach, appealing to personal responsibility.

Nowhere in America is the coronavirus pandemic more out of control than in Michigan.

Outbreaks are ripping through workplaces, restaurants, churches and family weddings. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients. Officials are reporting more than 7,000 new infections each day, a sevenfold increase from late February. And Michigan is home to nine of the 10 metro areas with the country’s highest recent case rates.

During previous surges in Michigan, a resolute Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shut down businesses and schools as she saw fit — over the din of both praise and protests. But this time, Ms. Whitmer has stopped far short of the sweeping shutdowns that made her a lightning rod.

“Policy change alone won’t change the tide,” Ms. Whitmer said on Friday, as she asked — but did not order — that the public take a two-week break from indoor dining, in-person high school and youth sports. “We need everyone to step up and to take personal responsibility here.”

It is a rare moment in the pandemic: a high-profile Democratic governor bucking the pleas of doctors and epidemiologists in her state and instead asking for voluntary actions from the public to control the virus’s spread. Restaurants and bars remain open at a reduced capacity, Detroit Tigers fans are back at the stadium and most schools have welcomed students into the classroom.

Ms. Whitmer’s new position reflects the shifting politics of the pandemic, shaped more by growing public impatience with restrictions and the hope offered by vaccines than by any reassessment among public health authorities of how best to contain the virus.

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Posted in: Member News
Seeking Members for Task Force on Pharmacy Workplace Environment

With the increased visibility of concerns over the pharmacy workplace environment appearing in the media and other forums, MPA is moving forward with the creation of the MPA Task Force on the Pharmacy Workplace Environment.

The Task Force will be looking at all pharmacy practice settings. The charges include to review existing Institute for Safe Medication Practices guidelines and/or recommendations and identify how they can be implemented across practice settings, review how reduced pharmacy reimbursement impacts the workplace environment, identify strategies to prevent common errors, make recommendations on strategies to address pharmacy and pharmacy technician resiliency, identify best practices to be implemented in the various practice settings and consider other patient-safety and pharmacist and pharmacy technician related issues.

The Task Force will be comprised of individuals from the various pharmacy practice settings. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians interested in serving on the Task Force are asked to apply to MPA by sending an email with the subject - “Pharmacy Workplace Environment Task Force” to MPA CEO Larry Wagenknecht. Please include your resume/CV and a brief statement of why you have interests in serving on this Task Force. The Task Force will be officially appointed by the MPA Executive Board.

Posted in: Member News
Status Update on MPA's CEO Search

The Michigan Pharmacists Association would like to thank you for your ongoing contribution to our mission - providing support, advocacy and resources that ultimately improve patient care, safety, health, and the practice of pharmacy.  As many of you know, after 36 years of service to the Association, our current CEO, Larry Wagenknecht, has announced his retirement date of January, 2021.  MPA’s Executive Board has appointed a confidential Search Committee made up of MPA members from all practice settings to identify candidates for consideration and secured HRM Services to facilitate the search process.  The posting for our CEO position is now ‘live’ and we wanted to make sure you were among the first to see it. Click here to view the job description.

Should you, or someone you know, embody the qualities, skills and experience required to lead the Michigan Pharmacists Association in this next phase, please follow the response directions in the posting to indicate interest.  We are asking that you share this posting with your personal and professional networks to help spread the word.  Again, we thank you for your continued support and look forward to the exciting opportunities ahead!

Posted in: Member News
Previewing the 2020 ASHP House of Delegates

Jesse Hogue, Pharm.D., Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo, 2019-2020 Michigan ASHP Delegate

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) will convene its 72nd Annual Session of the House of Delegates virtually (it’s a whole new world!) this June to address an agenda that includes considering 25 policy recommendations and a statement, receiving board and committee reports and considering a variety of other society business items. Your elected delegates this year are Ryan Bickel, Peggy Malovrh, Mike Ruffing and me, with Jim Lile and Dianne Malburg as alternates. The Michigan delegates have already been quite active in 2020. In March, we caucused to consider 15 policy recommendations for the Virtual House of Delegates, and supported all but one policy which we thought needed to be worded more clearly. After voting, 13 of the policies met the >85 percent threshold and were approved and two were deferred for consideration in June. We all also participated in virtual Regional Delegate Conferences in late April and caucused again in early May to discuss which of the 25 policies might be of most interest to MSHP members and/or for which we would like member input. While a full discussion of each of the policy recommendations is beyond the scope of this article, the few we chose to highlight are outlined below.

New Categories of Licensed Pharmacy Personnel. The Council on Public Policy was tasked with considering this issue after several states introduced laws allowing the creation of a “pharmacist assistant.” The Council questioned the need for any new midlevel role. Consistent with the stance MSHP/MPA has traditionally taken, the Council felt the focus should be on reinforcing the importance of and professionalization of the pharmacy technician. The policy recommendation is therefore to oppose the creation of new categories of licensed pharmacy personnel. In support of this policy, many delegates noted that creation of midlevel pharmacist assistants would likely lead to employers cutting back on pharmacists, negatively impacting patient care and making a bad job market even worse.

Funding, Expertise and Oversight of State Boards of Pharmacy. This was an existing policy that the Council on Public Policy reviewed as part of sunset review. The existing policy did a nice job supporting the role and necessary funding of the state boards of pharmacy. After review, the Council has proposed updates to the policy which more clearly identify the need for health-system representation on the state boards of pharmacy, as well as pharmacy technicians. The existing policy also identifies pharmacists competent in the applicable area of practice as the people who should perform board inspections. Some delegates have proposed broadening it to recommend pharmacy technicians as inspectors (see below for proposed language) – your Michigan delegates would like to know if you agree or disagree with this, please let us know your thoughts!

  • To advocate that inspections be performed only by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians competent about the applicable area of practice.

Safety and Efficacy of Compounded Topical Formulations. The Council on Therapeutics crafted this proposed policy to speak to the clinical effectiveness of and issues pertaining to compounded topical formulations. The Council identified a lack of reliable data demonstrating safety and efficacy, lack of standardized composition and concentration and significant increases in insurance fraud with these products. It does not seek to oppose compounded topical formulation, recognizing there is clinical evidence to support their use in some disease states. Rather, it encourages appropriate reimbursement for medically necessary compounded products as well as for hospitals and health systems, with pharmacist leadership, to develop policies and procedures to support informed decision making on these products. The policy includes wording that implies a call for more regulation but that will likely be amended to shift the focus to advocate for internal process that ensure the quality and safety of the products rather than outside regulation. The Michigan delegates support this, understanding that regulation may mean PCAB or similar certification, which would be untenable. We may, however, propose an amendment to ask ASHP to develop a repository of evidence-based formulations that could serve as a resource for topical products compounding for members. If you have strong feelings on these ideas, please let us know!

Residency Training for Pharmacists Who Provide Direct Patient Care. With MSHP’s history of strongly supporting residency training, we thought this policy would be of high interest to our membership. For this policy recommendation, the Council on Education and Workforce Development reviewed two older policies related to residency training and decided they should be updated and combined. The resulting statement continues to support requiring residency training for new pharmacy graduates intending to serve in direct patient care roles, while still recognizing that comparable skills may be attained through years of practice experience for pharmacists previously unable to complete a residency. The old policy included a target of 2020 for this requirement. After considerable discussion, the Council agreed that the need for this is now, and so opted not to include a future target date in the proposed policy statement to underscore the current urgent need for residency training and the expansion of training sites.

Preserving Patient Access to Pharmacy Services in Medically Underserved Areas. Since patient access to care in rural and underserved areas has been a big issue in our state, we thought this proposed new policy from the Council on Pharmacy Management would be of interest to MSHP members. The Council recognized the national trend of low reimbursement rates and decreasing populations in rural and underserved areas resulting in closures of hospitals and clinics and, thus, challenges in recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals. These trends disproportionately affect elderly and low-income populations. The new policy calls for funding and innovative payment models to preserve patient access to acute and ambulatory care pharmacy services in these areas, support for telepharmacy to extend patient care services and enhance continuity of care, advocacy for availability of advanced communication technology to support this care model in rural and underserved areas, and loan forgiveness or incentive programs to aid in recruitment and retention in these areas.

Continuity of Care in Pharmacy Payer Networks. Similar to the previous policy, payer policies and practices that adversely affect continuity of care has been a hot topic in our state. This new policy statement, also from the Council on Pharmacy Management, is very similar to a policy our MSHP caucus in the MPA House of Delegates helped work on earlier this year. This proposed policy would highlight our opposition to provider access criteria that impose requirements or qualifications on participation in pharmacy payer networks that interfere with patient continuity of care or patient site-of-care options.

This discussion merely scratches the surface of the policy recommendations. Many of the other policy recommendations will also be of significant interest to MSHP members, and they all will affect us as health-system pharmacists, so I would encourage you to review the proposed policies and contact one of the delegates with any questions or comments you may have (Jesse:; Mike:; Ryan:; Peggy: I have listed the titles of all the policy recommendations below for your review. Members can view the official language of the policy recommendations at the ASHP House of Delegates website as well as follow online discussions via the House of Delegates community within ASHP Connect. There has already been quite a bit of good discussion on ASHP Connect, feel free to join the conversation!

Policy Recommendations to be considered by the 2020 ASHP House of Delegates:


  1. Credentialing and Privileging by Regulators, Payers, and Providers of Collaborative Practice
  2. Access to Affordable Healthcare
  3. Care-Commensurate Reimbursement
  4. Importation of Drug Products
  5. Public Quality Standards for Biologic Products
  6. New Categories of Licensed Pharmacy Personnel
  7. Funding, Expertise, and Oversight of State Boards of Pharmacy
  8. Dispensing by Nonpharmacists and Nonprescribers


  1. Naloxone Availability
  2. Safety and Efficacy of Compounded Topical Formulations
  3. Postmarketing Studies
  4. Gabapentin as a Controlled Substance


  1. Residency Training for Pharmacists Who Provide Direct Patient Care


  1. Pharmacist’s Role in Health Insurance Benefit Design
  2. Preserving Patient Access to Pharmacy Services in Medically Underserved Areas
  3. Multistate Pharmacist Licensure
  4. Continuity of Care in Pharmacy Payer Networks
  5. Network Connectivity and Interoperability for Continuity of Care
  6. Medication Formulary System Management
  7. Health-System Use of Medications Supplied to Patients
  8. Health-System Use of Administration Devices Supplied Directly to Patients
  9. Staffing for Safe and Effective Patient Care


  1. Role of the Pharmacy Workforce in Violence Prevention
  2. Role of the Pharmacy Workforce in Preventing Accidental and Intentional Firearm Injury and Death
  3. Safe Use of Transdermal System Patches


  1. ASHP Statement on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Pharmacy
Posted in: Member News
Telepharmacy and E-Prescribing

Stephen Smith, B.S. Pharm., Chief Pharmacy Officer Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit and MSHP Treasurer

We are creatures of habit. We enjoy the constancy and consistency of our normal day-in and day-out routine. Introduce any significant change into that routine and “Hey, you moved my cheese.” or “Why did you change something that wasn’t broke?”

We are in the middle of one of the biggest disruptors in our lifetimes, COVID-19. We are required to behave differently, to think differently, and to interact with each other differently. We are now routinely holding meetings where 20-30 of our colleagues interact through Microsoft Teams, ZOOM or other software platforms to hold those meetings where three months ago we had to have a face-to-face interaction. Professional organizations, including MSHP and MPA have held and are planning conferences where 100 – 200 people will interact electronically in various “rooms” deciding issues and formulating policy. What used to be our routine way of doing things is adjusting to our “new normal.”

How can a pharmacy exist without a pharmacist physically present? How can all paper prescriptions be totally eliminated safely? These are questions that are being asked and new solutions and new normal are being explored.

Telepharmacy: Public Act No. 4 of 2020; previously SB 340, Sen. VanderWall (R-Frankfort) defines the practice of telepharmacy. Provisions and definitions of remote pharmacy, parent pharmacy, use of audio and video tools to provide oversight and to interact with patients, minimum distances between sites, requirements for the pharmacists and technicians who work in these pharmacies, limits to the number of prescriptions and retention timelines for audio/video communications are all part of this Public Act. The bill was signed into law by Governor Whitmer on Jan. 24, 2020, and became effective April 26, 2020. Telepharmacy is definitely a new normal from our traditional models of direct face-to-face practice. A major hope for this law is to bring pharmacy services closer to the patients who live in more remote areas of Michigan. Pharmacists embracing this new technology will need to transfer all our normal safety and quality protocols to this electronic space. Time will tell if our hopes for this new technology are realized.

E-prescribing:  HB 4217 / SB 248 / SB 254; Rep. Bellino (R-Monroe), Sen. Johnson (R-Holly) and Sen. Zorn (R-Ida) have submitted legislation which would require prescribers to electronically submit all prescriptions (including controlled substances). Currently, all three bills have been passed out of their respective chambers and are in the opposite chamber’s health policy committee. The bills were introduced to help align Michigan’s processes with upcoming Medicare rule changes regarding the use of electronic prescriptions. As pharmacists, our long time hope with e-prescribing is that information is transmitted clearly between the provider and the pharmacist. No messy writing to interpret; clear concise and accurate directions that are easily communicated between health professionals for the patient’s benefit. Those of us who work in hospitals/clinics realize that these tools have come a long way since their infancy but like any computerized system are subject to human error and incorrect information. The complete elimination of more traditional prescribing methods will continue to be challenging until many of the intrahospital/clinic rules (weight based dosing, drug interactions, dose range checking) are robustly incorporated into e-prescribing. Additionally, access to critical diagnostic information is another safety measure that needs to be available to the external practitioner. So while the concept of e-prescribing philosophically pushes us toward better, safer patient care, there are still some very real challenges that we must work to overcome.

Whether you support these new normals or believe another alternative is better, you need to be involved so that your voice is heard as these changes are being discussed and developed. Consider joining Pharmacy PAC, PART (Pharmacy Advocacy Response Team), participate in an MSHP or MPA committee (Public Affairs or Professional and Legal Affairs); you can explore the MPA website for options open to you. 

Posted in: Member News
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