Sunday, June 22, 2008

Butler’s pharmacy addition just what the doctor ordered

New $14M building will help college meet increasing demand for graduates

Scott Olson -
Mary Andritz, dean of Butler University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, bursts into laughter when asked how long her department’s been short on space.

“I’ve only been here for two years, but I think it’s been for some considerable amount of time,” she guessed. “Probably for 10 years.”

Lilly Endowment Inc., however, is filling the prescription in the form of a grant to fund a 40,000-square-foot addition under construction and scheduled to open by the fall 2009 semester.

The $14 million, four-story building is included in a $25 million gift the endowment gave to Butler and will double current space at the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Connected to the existing structure built in 1951, the new addition will include larger classrooms, two laboratories and project rooms for future pharmacists, who are in great demand.

Both Butler and Purdue University, which hosts the state’s only other pharmacy program, say their pharmacy students typically receive two to three solid job offers each after graduation.

“It’s more an issue of where they want to locate,” said Craig Svensson, dean of Purdue’s College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences, “because they have so many choices.”

A consortium of pharmacy groups called the Pharmacy Manpower Project issued a report in 2002 that experts still cite because of its thoroughness. It predicted 157,000 unfilled pharmacy openings by 2020.

Several factors are fueling the shortage, including changes in insurance policies and federal regulation of pharmaceuticals, making drugs available to more people. An aging population and the increasing practice of drugmakers advertising directly to the public has helped cause the number of prescriptions to rise from 2 billion to 3.2 billion annually in the last decade.