FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J., Feb. 13 Prescriptionmedication use in the United States continues to surge, driven by an agingpopulation, longer life expectancy and the development of exciting newtherapies that hold great promise in addressing the ills of millions ofpatients. However, numerous national reports reveal a looming healthcarecrisis within the next decade -- a national shortage of 157,000 pharmacistsneeded to, quite literally, fill the prescription healthcare needs of millionsof patients.
As part of its continued dedication to addressing the pharmacy care needsin America, Medco Health Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MHS) today announced anational scholarship program to identify and support the development of thenext generation of pharmacists. The scholarship program -- one of a number ofinitiatives Medco has undertaken to advance pharmacy care in America -- willbe conducted through the Medco Labor Coalition, the nation's only coalitiondedicated to providing pharmacy benefits to small and mid-size labor unions.
"A career in pharmacy is now so much more than it was just a few yearsago, literally transcending plastic trays and counting pills to nowencompassing everything from genetics and personalized medicine to electronicprescribing," said Pamela T. Miller, vice president market strategy anddevelopment, Medco. "Delivering prescription care in the 21st century presentsone of the greatest domestic healthcare challenges to our nation, and we'reexcited to support students today who hold the promise for tomorrow."
Within just the past decade, the role of the pharmacist has moved beyondthe corner druggist to exciting careers that touch engineering, genetics,manufacturing, drug development, public policy and clinical specialization.For its part, Medco has instituted a number of initiatives to driveimprovement in pharmacy care in America. Most recently, Medco became the onlypharmacy in the United States to offer care from more than 800 specialistpharmacists trained in one of eight chronic disease categories. Medco isdriving the future application of technologies such as personalized medicinethrough research partnerships with the Mayo Clinic and LabCorp; automateddispensing to improve dispensing accuracy as illustrated in its two automatedpharmacies; and electronic prescribing through innovative efforts like theSoutheast Michigan e-Prescribing Initiative (SEMI). The company also providesscholarship grants to 19 schools of pharmacy in the United States to fosterlearning and expand pharmacy training.
"This is an exciting time to consider a career in pharmacy, because thereare so many ways that one can make an impact on millions of Americans," saidMedco Chief Pharmacist Roger Anderson, Dr.P.H. "We are leading the emergenceof many of the most exciting advances in pharmacy care, and we're excited tobe able to provide opportunities to those students who want to make adifference."
The Medco Labor Coalition Scholarship is based on a combination ofacademic achievement, commitment to a career in pharmacy, leadership andcommunity service. The number of recipients and the amount of the scholarshipto each student will be decided on an annual basis by Medco. Awardees will bechosen on an annual basis by an independent scholarship service retained byMedco to administer the program. Scholarship eligibility is exclusively forbiological and legally adopted children of members of union clients in theMedco Labor Coalition.
The competitive selection process will give consideration to therespective ability, educational goals, career ambitions, and the relativefinancial need of the applicants by an independent awards advisory committee,comprised of college officials. In addition to receiving a financialscholarship award, recipients will be considered for a summer internship atMedco during the year their scholarship is granted.
The application deadlin