The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy will soon welcome Barbara Exum, Pharm.D. (B.S.’82/P; Pharm.D.’86/P), as director of the newly established Center for Compounding Practice and Research. The compounding pharmacy, which is located on the fifth floor of the Robert Blackwell Smith Building, has been in operation since early this year. A grand opening celebration is set for June 10 from 11 a.m. to noon.
“VCU is on the cutting edge as we open our state-of-the-art sterile medication compounding facility,” Exum said of the academic pharmacy that is one of only a few of its kind in the country. “Now that we have an operationally compliant cleanroom environment, we can better provide to our students hands-on training as well as education concerning the required equipment and regulatory standards governing sterile and nonsterile compounding.”
Pharmacy compounding is the art and science of preparing personalized medications for patients. Compounded medications are made based on a practitioner’s prescription in which individual ingredients are mixed together in the exact strength and dosage form required by the patient. At one time, nearly all prescriptions were compounded, but with the advent of mass drug manufacturing in the 1950s and ‘60s, compounding rapidly declined and most pharmacists were no longer trained on how to compound medications. Compounding has thus become a specialization and, while many pharmacy schools still teach it, it is often reduced to a few lessons.
“There is a great need for training in sterile pharmaceutical compounding,” said Joseph T. DiPiro, Pharm.D., dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy. “The new compounding pharmacy will propel VCU to become a regional and national training center for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, industry personnel and pharmaceutical regulators. It is a great opportunity for our school to be a national leader in this area.”
Exum brings more than 30 years of experience to the position, having most recently served as senior vice president of clinical services at BioScrip, which is a publicly traded home-infusion therapy company.