Truly improved health care outcomes require both continuing innovations in treatment and better policies to make that care more accessible and affordable. With pharmacists playing an increasingly vital role in the move toward personalized medicine, the School’s clinical pharmacy research group is engaged in efforts that bridge the gap between the laboratory and direct patient care. The health economics and policy research group brings new thinking and new approaches to address the nation’s health and health system challenges. And the regulatory science group helps facilitate the arrival of new health care advances to the market in a cost-effective way while still ensuring safety.
Health Economics & Policy Research
Evaluating health products and services in a number of industry settings—and exploring innovative ways of financing them
The health economics and policy research group aims to transform both the provision of health care and the system that delivers it. The group evaluates the spectrum of health products and services, from direct providers—such as physician groups, hospitals and nursing homes—to the industry’s financial side, including managed care, Medicare and Medicaid. One of the group’s professors recently received an $11.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to explore ways to reduce the inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics. And a recent study by another faculty member demonstrated how improving American health during middle age could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in savings to the government.
The group’s efforts center on the following key research areas:
Retrospective Database Analyses
Measuring the effectiveness of medical interventions requires thorough examination of real-life patient outcomes. To achieve this, faculty have completed studies on depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, cancer, osteoporosis, hypertension, congestive heart failure, diabetes, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis and hemophilia, and also have analyzed the impact of pharmaceutical care services on patient outcomes. Each of these analyses involves data acquisition, model and variable specification, statistical analysis including selection adjustment, and graphical display of outcomes.
The cost-effectiveness of treatment regimens cannot be measure solely in dollars. Non-monetary patient outcomes such as years of life gained must also be considered. The faculty devoted to this area are major contributors to methodologies for measuring quality of life that is such a vital focus in health care today. State-of-the-art cost-effectiveness research also assesses community preferences regarding outcomes—including the utility gained from increased physical functioning or reduction in pain. Faculty members also have researched quality of life and utility assessments in such areas as ophthalmology, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, HIV and migraine. Cross-cultural assessments are a particular focus of the team.
Decision-Analytic Models of Cost-Effectiveness
Decision-analytic models are frequently used to simulate costs and outcomes associated with interventions. These analyses can use existing literature or retrospective studies and meta-analyses to determine if a particular treatment is more cost-effective than existing treatments. These studies also can be used to determine if additional research is necessary to improve the quality of available information. Faculty on the team have conducted studies employing decision-analytic models in a number of areas, including hemophilia, glaucoma and the societal implications of transitioning non-sedating antihistamines from prescription to over-the-counter status.
Contributing to the understanding of drug use, response and outcomes, from the laboratory to the bedside
The clinical pharmacy group actively pursues research and demonstration projects that identify best practices in the clinical environment. Collaborating with health policy and economics faculty, their projects contribute to the body of the knowledge nationwide that is clearly establishing the pharmacist’s role on the health care team as the medication expert informing health care colleagues and patients on medication therapy management.
Clinical faculty actively pursue research that will identify new models of care that cost effectively produce optimal patient outcomes. The School is involved in federally funded demonstration projects that will impact how health care is delivered in the future.
The faculty in the group conduct research at the leading edge of almost every area of medical practice. From the laboratory to the bedside, clinical faculty members contribute to the knowledge and understanding of drug use, response and outcomes every day. For example, clinicians are faced with an ever-increasing tide of antimicrobial resistance while also having to cope with the dwindling development of novel antibiotic agents to treat infections caused by multi-drug-resistant bacteria. The clinical pharmacy team combines a molecular and pharmacological approach to address this therapeutic challenge.
One of the group’s major efforts focuses on achieving a more thorough understanding of host-microbial interactions during acute and chronic infections, with the goal of identifying potential targeted therapies for bacterial virulence or modulation of host response. The team is exploiting existing therapies with known safety profiles, as well as novel therapies in drug development. This research program encompasses in vitro cellular models of infection, epidemiologic and outcomes studies, and prospective clinical trials.
USC Pharmacy experts:
Mel Baron, PharmD
Paul Beringer, PharmD
Steven Chen, PharmD, CDM, FCSHP
Julie Ann Dopheide, PharmD
Melissa Durham, PharmD
Bill Gong, PharmD, FASHP
Kathleen Hill Besinque, PharmD, MSEd
May Mack, PharmD
Edith Mirzaian, PharmD
Gladys Mitani, PharmD
Tien Ng, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS
Susie Park, PharmD, BCPP
Kathy Rodgers, PhD
Irving Steinberg, PharmD
Glen Lewis Stimmel, PharmD, BCPP
Bradley Williams, PharmD
Michael Wincor, PharmD
Focusing on regulatory affairs, clinical research and quality systems
In the last decade, the regulatory environment for biopharmaceutical products has greatly shifted as a truly global marketplace has emerged. The field of regulatory science remains one of the fastest growing sectors in health care today, with the USC School of Pharmacy at the forefront. The School houses the International Center for Regulatory Science, offering the world’s only professional doctorate in the discipline, as well as a master’s degree.
As researchers strive to find new and increasingly effective treatments for pervasive diseases and disorders, those new breakthroughs must be tested for safety and efficacy before reaching patients. The School of Pharmacy’s regulatory science group is composed of experts in the diverse issues involved in regulatory practice today. They collaborate to form new methodologies that streamline the regulatory process and accelerate innovation—bringing new advances more quickly to those in need while ensuring new products are safe, appropriate and cost effective.