“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.
Prior to joining BioScrip, Exum spent most of her academic and professional career at VCU. She received her undergraduate pharmacy degree in 1982 and her Doctor of Pharmacy in 1986, both at VCU. Exum’s doctoral research project, which explored the feasibility of a home-infusion program at an academic medical center, was the launch point of the expertise in sterile compounding that she has continued to develop throughout her career. Her background includes working as the assistant director of pharmacy services at VCU Health and serving as an assistant professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy. In her position at BioScrip she served as a preceptor for VCU pharmacy students’ clinical rotations.
“We have a unique opportunity to have this sterile facility at VCU,” Exum said. “We now have a hands-on environment where we can provide advanced training, continuing education, certificate programs and elective courses. We will not only be producing competent compounding pharmacists, but will also have a directly positive outcome on improving patient safety and providing a higher quality of life for the patients we serve.”