UBC Pharmacists Provide Quality Care

UBC Pharmacists Provide Quality Care

During the month of October, we’re joining the American Pharmacists Association to celebrate the integral role that pharmacists play in the healthcare of patients. The theme “Know your Pharmacist, Know your Medicine” inspired us to interview just a few of our highly skilled pharmacists.

Minal Dhebaria, PharmD, RPh
Sr. Safety Scientist
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

Q. How would you describe your role at UBC?

A. I work in UBC’s Pharmacovigilance division to capture, evaluate, and assess adverse events. I support a product that treats patients with prostate cancer. This program is a 5-year study. The adverse events I receive may be submitted by healthcare professionals, clinical trial investigators, or by patients.

The information our team receives will be used and analyzed to update package inserts and medication guides or create resources for healthcare professionals. We work to ensure the drug is both effective and safe.

Q. What was your inspiration for becoming a pharmacist?

A. In high school, I worked at a retail pharmacy, and I really enjoyed the interaction I had with patients. I always liked science, and initially thought I might attend medical school. However, the sight of blood made me very nervous. I decided pharmacy school was a much better option for me. I recognized the importance of the pharmacist role and knew I could make a difference in patients’ lives.

Most people think of medical doctors, surgeons, and nurses when they think of treating patients. But pharmacists are critical to helping patients take medications. Therefore, we play a big role in managing disease states. We are the drug experts. If a patient has questions, we have answers. We help patients know how they should take the medication and what potential side effects may occur.

Q. What is one memorable instance when your work impacted a patient’s life?

A. Particularly memorable is a time when I was in pharmacy school. I was doing a rotation in a hospital intensive care unit. A medical resident had prescribed an antibiotic that was not appropriate for the patient who had decreased renal function. I helped the resident adjust the antibiotic’s dose for the patient’s renal disorder. I realized my work could truly help patients and save lives.

In pharmacy school, I did a summer internship at a call center for a pharmaceutical company. In the call center, I received adverse event reports from patients who were taking a particular medication for their irritable bowel syndrome. I heard a lot! But, it was very important that I listened to them and correctly captured all the information that was reported. They were able to talk to me about symptoms and side effects that they weren’t comfortable telling others.

In my current role, I do not work with patients face-to-face, and the information I receive is de-identified. Still, I’m able to learn a lot through the reports I receive. I learn about a patient’s illness and quality of life. I know these patients have families, careers, and hobbies. Every day, I’m impacting patients’ lives by working to make drugs safer. 

Q. How does your role affect the development and long-term safety profile of a product?

A. Through my work in pharmacovigilance, I evaluate information that affects patients on a global level. Based on the information received through adverse event reports, I can help ensure the safe and effective use of medications. My colleagues and I perform investigative work to identify and evaluate what patient populations are at risk for certain side effects and how those risks can be mitigated. We are on the frontline of obtaining information from healthcare professionals and patients. We’re critical to identifying and capturing side effects. It’s important that we capture and evaluate the information correctly so we can provide that information to regulatory authorities.

Just for Fun

Q. If you could add an extra hour to every day, what would you do with it?

A. I’m a new mom, so I’d spend more time with my 8 month old son, Kai. I’d also read more to enhance my professional skill set.

Q. Name one thing about you that not many people know.

A. I was a complete bookworm when I was growing up. I’d read in the dark with a nightlight when I was supposed to be sleeping. I spent so much time reading that my parents wouldn’t give me money for the book fair. They thought I should spend more time outside with my friends, but I loved reading – and I still do.