University to offer pharmaceutical program

The Florida Board of Governors approved the University’s proposal for a four-year doctoral pharmacy degree program (PharmD).

The University expects to have the first class of 50 students in 2011. The program is still awaiting accreditation by the American College of Physicians.

Kevin Sneed, clinical director and assistant dean of USF Health’s Division of Clinical Pharmacy, said the project is not asking for any money from the state at the moment and all funds going toward accreditation are from private donors.

The program will request money from the state in 2011 — or before then, if the economy turns around, Sneed said.

The USF business plan expects the program to admit 400 students by 2017 at a cost of $10.5 million, generating $7.3 million in tuition.

Sneed, who will lead the program, said the demand for the degree is apparent. In 2011, the first wave of baby boomers will be eligible for Medicare.

“We know there will be a large number of people that are going to be elderly who are going to be on medication therapy,” he said. “Just from a public health standpoint, if we look down the road, we know there is going to be an increase in medicinal therapy for patients.”

Florida has 20 percent fewer pharmacists than will be needed, Sneed said.

“As an added value, these Doctor of Pharmacy graduates will be top wage-earning professionals — a highly-educated work force that will contribute to our state’s economic development, particularly here in the greater Tampa Bay region,” said Stephen Klasko, CEO for USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine, to ABC News.

Florida has the largest percentage of population over the age of 65, Sneed said. The program would hopefully keep its graduates in Florida.

“If we are admitting people into our program who are from the state of Florida, then more than likely, we expect them to stay in Florida,” he said.

Two other public universities in the state offer pharmacy degrees. The University of Florida received 2,000 applications for 300 openings this year, and Florida A&M received 1,200 for 150 openings. Florida also has three private universities with pharmacy programs: Nova Southeastern, Palm Beach Atlantic and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“Our angle is, we feel we are going to open up and offer an outstanding pharmacy education at a better tuition price,” Sneed said.

In March, Sneed hopes to host a question-and-answer forum about the pharmacy program.

He also said that community hospitals and retail pharmacies support it.

The Board also approved the creation of doctoral programs in history, government and sociology.