UH Hilo pharmacy college offers new course on drug preparation

The addition of the new course is vital because specialized drug preparation requires advanced knowledge and experience not typically taught in the curriculum.

By Kara Nelson.

Mimi Pezzuto
Mimi Pezzuto

Pharmacy students at the University of Hawai‘i have the opportunity this spring to take a new elective class on advanced compounding. Instructor of the course, Mimi Pezzuto, says the addition of the new course is vital because specialized drug preparation requires advanced knowledge and experience not typically taught in the curriculum.

“Sometimes conventional, off-the-shelf products are not appropriate for everyone,” explains Pezzuto. For example, she says, if an elderly person finds swallowing pills difficult, a pharmacist could make a topical medication to provide the medication, rather than using a common, commercially-produced medication.

“Perhaps capsules might need to be prepared from a unique combination of pharmaceuticals or a cream created and milled to the right consistency with the proper base for maximum absorption,” she adds. “This would require special expertise and experience on part of the pharmacist to prepare the medication.”

Pezzuto has been an instructor in the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy since 2008 and has been the pharmacist in charge at UH Hilo’s Student Medical Services since 2013. She received her bachelor of science in pharmacy from University of Illinois Medical Center College of Pharmacy. She is a registered and licensed pharmacist (R.Ph.) in Illinois and Hawai‘i. She received the Teacher of the Year award in 2009 and 2012.

Pezzuto says a special skill like advanced compounding is needed for animals and humans alike. For example, animals may also require special dosage forms tailored to each animal such as a liver-flavored tablet for a dog or a special medicine to be applied to a cat’s ear.

“Veterinary compounding pharmacy would be specialized prescriptions that must be made to accommodate the special needs of the animal. How do you treat a sick fish? Can you make an anchovy flavored ointment that a cat would want to try to eat to take its medicine? Vets often send prescriptions to the pharmacy to make these specialized prescriptions.”

The new course gives students an advantage when they enter the workforce and the ability to explore another career option.

“The exposure for students to this specialized area in pharmacy better prepares them for the competitive job market,” says Pezzuto. “Many students are very interested in a career in compounding pharmacy, and this elective gives them more in-depth exposure.”

Not only does the course give students a competitive edge, it also helps ensure Hawai‘i and mainland communities will receive the best medical coverage possible.

“The ability to customize a dosage form helps patients because it gives the patients other options that they might not have if the pharmacist is not well trained in compounding,” says Pezzuto.

The Course

Advanced Compounding
12:00-12:50 p.m.
Location: Pharmacy compounding laboratory at the modulars
1 Credit
CRN: 13209
Restrictions: May not be a non-degree student and must be a Clinical Psychopharmacology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, or Pharmacy major.

For more information, please contact Mimi Pezzuto.


About the author of this story: Kara Nelson is a senior at UH Hilo double majoring in English and Communication. She is an intern in the Office of the Chancellor.

-UH Hilo Stories