NCPDP Sends Representative to White House Opioid Summit



Ashok Pinnamaraju owns Williamson Road Pharmacy in Roanoke, Virginia. A pharmacist with more than 10 years of experience, Ashok Pinnamaraju maintains membership with the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, or NCPDP.

In March, the White House convened a summit to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic plaguing the country. The three-hour meeting featured Steve Mullenix, RPh, the NCPDP’s senior vice president of public policy and industry relations, as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and other key stakeholders in the administration.

The White House has put a renewed focus on the development of practical solutions to deal with the growing crisis of addiction to opioid pain medications. The administration will convene future panels and will compile the results in a series of memos that will be sent to the president’s desk for consideration in the context of potential policy changes.

Generic versus Name-Brand Medication

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For more than a decade, Ashok Pinnamaraju has been working as a pharmacist. He began his career as an overnight pharmacist at Walgreens and has since served as the owner of Lexcare Pharmacy and Floyd Pharmacy. Currently, Ashok Pinnamaraju leads Williamson Road Pharmacy in Virginia as owner and works with clients to ensure they get the medications they need at an affordable price.

Contrary to popular belief, generic medications are tightly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Typically, the FDA lets generic medications enter the market after about seven years of a brand-name drug’s exclusivity. For the first six months after generics are allowed, only a single generic manufacturer is allowed to sell the medicine. After that period, any manufacturer can sell a generic medication, but it must prove that it meets certain requirements.

All generic drugs are required by the FDA to have the same active ingredients as name-brand medication. These active ingredients must also be of the same strength as name-brand medications, have the same route of administration, and contain the same dosage. Furthermore, the drug’s concentration in the blood needs to be within 10 percent of the name brand’s concentration. However, most medications only vary by about 3 to 4 percent.

One area that the FDA does not regulate is the inactive medications in the generic medication. Because generic medications may contain an inactive ingredient that can cause an allergic reaction or has a negative interaction with another medication, it is important for the consumer to be aware of these differences. Some inactive ingredients may also slow down how quickly the active ingredients work once in the body, meaning a generic medication may seem to work more slowly than name-brand medication. Still, this difference is usually not very large.

APhA’s Lead360 Program


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Lead360 Program

A graduate of Oregon State University, Ashok Pinnamaraju holds a PhD in pharmacy and possesses more than 10 years of experience in the field. The owner of Williamson Road Pharmacy in Roanoke, Virginia, Ashok Pinnamaraju stays abreast of changes in the field through his membership in organization such as the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).

Since 1852, APhaA has been supporting pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. One of the many programs maintained by the organization is Lead360, a part of the APhA’s Leadership 360 Institute. The program is designed to provide pharmacists with management and leadership skills.

The Lead360: The Leader Within program is a live experience that prepares pharmacists for leadership roles within their community, profession, and among their health care teams. The in-person offering helps participants demonstrate their motivations to lead, recognize the importance of following their interests, and realize their leadership strengths and weaknesses.

The program features small groups and individualized attention, with one facilitator for every 12 participants. After the program is completed, professionals can continue their leadership development by participating in a three-month virtual experience. This experience includes 30-minute webinars to watch every other week, along with 60-minute small cohort calls with a facilitator and three to five other professionals.