President W. Clarke Ridgway Inaugural Address

AIHP Treasurer Clarke Ridgway

AIHP President Inaugural Address; W. Clarke Ridgway; Nov. 14, 2019

I’d like to first recognize and thank out-going President Bill Zellmer for your masterful guidance of the Institute during a critical time of leadership and governance transition and for establishing a clear path of purpose for the Institute. I’d also like to offer my personal thanks to Bill for the many hours of insight and encouragement you have shared with me, I will be forever grateful.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, these may not be the best and worst of times but they certainly are exciting times. Change and disruption are rampant throughout the entire field of pharmacy. Artificial intelligence, robotics, and the utilization of mega data impact all areas of human activity; in pharmacy these factors are transforming where and how pharmacotherapy is chosen and delivered. Pharmacogenomics and bioengineering are beginning to provide truly individualized therapies.

The off-shoring of not just the manufacturing of active ingredients and final dosage forms of both brand name and generic products but also of critical and fundamental research and development pose significant challenges to traditional supply chain and quality control efforts.

The consolidation of health care providers across the entire spectrum of the industry necessitates the continual reinvention of pharmacy practice. In the community, we’re moving rapidly from the image of the “chemist on the corner” to the provision of direct patient care; in hospitals from being order processors in the basement to active consultation and therapy determination at the bedside. The expansion of tele-pharmacy and its requisite devolution of more dispensing functions to a certified technician class pose problems of professional identity while expanding care to underserved areas.

Pharmacy education is experiencing its own disruption. A decline in enrollment accompanies an increase in the number of schools, testing the viability of long-held models of professional pedagogy. At the same time, healthcare systems see the need to expand residency training to provide capable practitioners for an ever-increasing level of acuity of care.

At a societal level the ongoing conflict between patient and professional autonomy shows no signs of easing, as witnessed by recent “right-to-try” legislation. We are witnessing the unfolding of a multitude of problems connected to the opioid crisis and general substance abuse disorder that are stressing many elements of the fabric of American society. Continually rising healthcare costs, particularly when focusing on pharmaceuticals, are giving rise to innovative healthcare delivery mechanisms and partnerships.

The chronicling of these changes and the attendant preservation and analysis of this information should provide a wealth of raw material for current and future historians. Yet all these changes, and many more, are occurring within a society that increasingly emphasizes a mechanistic view of the world ( i.e. STEM influence) at the expense of humanistic endeavors and values.

This, I believe, is where the value and purpose of the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy resides. Who is better equipped for such preservation? Our programming, publications, and collections must cover a wide range of topics and serve an audience that is broad and inclusive. I am confident that the “crowd wisdom” of our Board together with vital input from our membership and competent collective oversight of our administrative team will allow us to fulfill our mission of recording pharmacy’s role in the history of American society.

I look forward to working with each of you as we continue these necessary and valuable efforts. Thank you.

Advancing knowledge and understanding of the history of pharmacy and medicines.
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AIHP COVID-19 ProjectThe American Institute of the History of Pharmacy is documenting and preserving pharmacy stories and experiences during the COVID-19 global pandemic for the benefit of future historians and scholars. We seek to record the effects of this public health emergency on all types of pharmacy experiences. We invite you to share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.


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