UCSF Pharmacy School receives major grant from Amgen Foundation for Medicare Part D outreach

By Wallace Ravven

The UCSF School of Pharmacy has received a $3.7 million grant from the Amgen Foundation to fund an innovative program that will help underserved elderly Californians learn about and select from Medicare prescription drug plans.  There currently are more than 70 of these drug plans in the state, most of which are Medicare Part D plans. 

Called Partners in D, the three-and a-half year program will create an educational system and collaborative outreach network for pharmacy school students and faculty members, and community pharmacists.  Under the grant, UCSF will work with the six other schools of pharmacy in California to be
involved in the Partners in D program.

Partners in D will train student pharmacists who will, in turn, educate other health care professional students about Medicare Part D and move out and into the community to provide one-on-one assistance to Medicare-eligible seniors in community pharmacies and in community meetings.  Efforts will focus particularly on seniors from underserved communities, with low incomes, and those who speak and read little or no English.  The program will leverage the talents of student pharmacists with diverse backgrounds and language skills. 

“Meeting the health care needs of older adults, particularly the underserved, is one of the most challenging health policy issues we face,” said Helene Levens Lipton, PhD, professor in the UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy and co-principal investigator of the grant.  “This program is all about partnerships and we are pleased to start off the program by announcing our partnership with Amgen Foundation.”

Specifically, the Partners in D program will:

*  Leverage the core strengths of a diverse student population from the California schools of pharmacy to meet the healthcare needs of a multi-cultural state.

*  Develop new patient education programs, centered on Medicare Part D, in community pharmacy settings that leverage the front-line interaction pharmacists have with seniors on a regular basis.

*  Serve as a model of collaboration across the healthcare spectrum by engaging students in pharmacy, medicine and nursing.

*  Create new curricula for students, underscoring the importance of health policy literacy among healthcare professionals.

*  Grow to meet the needs of California underserved seniors with dozens of outreach sessions throughout the state. 

*  Evaluate the impact of the program on seniors, health professional students and faculty members.  Evaluate the impact of student pharmacists as drug experts and health care educators. 

Partners in D began as a pilot program in October 2005 and the Amgen Foundation’s grant allows for the program to expand in scope and extend statewide.  Essential to the grant is the research needed to assess program success and make evidenced-based changes in the program as it unfolds

“By harnessing the efforts of students across California’s seven pharmacy schools, and partnering with community organizations throughout California, Partners in D will help us come closer to our underlying and ambitious goal of greater access to important medications and health information for all elderly Californians,” said UCSF’s Lipton.

“During the pilot program, we saw first-hand the pronounced and often neglected need to make these types of government programs understandable and accessible to those who have significant income or language barriers.  We are grateful for the support of the Amgen Foundation and are very excited to continue moving innovative Part D initiatives beyond the classroom and into communities and pharmacies statewide,” said Marilyn Stebbins, PharmD, clinical professor in the UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy and co-principal investigator of the new program with Lipton.

“Partners in D represents the essence of what our foundation stands for: advancing education, improving quality of care and access for patients, and creating sound communities,” said Jean Lim, president of the Amgen Foundation.  “We support this program because it clearly takes full advantage of a diverse student body and encourages a spirit of collaboration.”

“This grant aligns perfectly with the UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy’s commitment to changing the way pharmacy care is delivered based upon the needs of our patients,” said Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, chair of the UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy.  “Pharmacists are on the front line of the Medicare Part D issue.  This grant will give future pharmacists the new skills to help patients manage a deluge of new information.” 

The Partners in D program begins immediately with outreach sessions occurring in Northern California throughout the weekend.  The first program, held in Sacramento, will help underserved seniors evaluate their Medicare Part D options and enroll in Part D prescription drug plans. 

Medicare Part D is the federal government’s voluntary prescription drug insurance program for Medicare-eligible individuals.  In the state of California, 55 different Medicare Part D Plans and 19 Medicare Advantage Plans choices are available.  Each plan has its own list of covered drugs, co-pay amounts, monthly premiums, deductibles, coverage in the “coverage gap,” and prior authorization process.

The UCSF School of Pharmacy is the top-ranked pharmacy school in the United States, as measured independently by academic quality and perception, funding, and publications.

The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance science education, improve patient access to quality care, and strengthen the communities where Amgen staff members live and work.  Since 1991, the Foundation has made $70 million in grants to local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways.  It has also supported disaster relief efforts both domestically and internationally.

UCSF is a leading university that advances health worldwide by conducting advanced biomedical research, educating graduate students in the life sciences and health professions, and providing complex patient care.

For additional information, visit:

Amgen—Amgen Citzenship Overview


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