Touro College of Pharmacy graduate Emil Joseph, PharmD, has won the 2016 Corporate Member Scholarship Award from the New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists (NYSCHP) for his essay about the potential economic impact of new drugs coming to market.
The essay, entitled, “Biosimilars, How Will They Effect the Pharmacoeconomics of Health Care,” discussed whether biosimilar drugs – less expensive but almost identical copies of “biologics,” which are substances made from a living organism or its products – will become an emerging market in the United States as they are in the European Union.
At 17, he became an after school pharmacy volunteer at Harlem Hospital Center, and three years later, he did the same at NYU’s Hospital of Joint Diseases.
Dr. Joseph concluded it is too soon to tell in the near-term because there are not enough biosimilars on the market in the U.S. “We won’t expect a drastic demand for biosimilars as we saw for generic [drugs] over brand name [drugs] here. However there is room for benefit amongst patients who require such drug therapies,” Dr. Joseph said. “More studies must be performed in the next five years to decide. We have limited experience with the efficacy and safety of biosimilar products.”
Dr. Joseph received his PharmD (doctor of pharmacy) degree on May 25th at commencement ceremonies in New York. His essay, selected from submissions from all seven pharmacy schools in New York State, is published in the June edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Pharmacy Practice. Touro College of Pharmacy (TCOP) began participating in the essay competition in 2012, and since then has won four of the past five competitions. Students in their last two years of school are able to participate.
TCOP Dean Henry Cohen, PharmD, congratulated Dr. Joseph on his award, “Emil’s training at Touro included early and extensive advanced pharmacy practice experiences that helped foster his understanding of the healthcare system, allowing him to articulate his thoughts and opinions in an award-winning fashion.”
Added Dr. Mary Choy, associate professor at TCOP and past-president of the local chapter of NYSCHP, “We are extremely proud of Emil’s accomplishment in winning the essay competition. He has been an active member of the NYSCHP since early on in his student career.”
Dr. Joseph said his essay’s theme grew out of his desire to learn more about biologics because they are used to treat chronic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis — a condition from which he personally suffers. “As students, we are exposed to many medications and most are synthetic – artificially derived and easier to understand. My interest in this topic came out of not fully understanding everything I needed to know about biologics, a growing emerging market.”
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Born and raised in the Bronx by parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Montserrat in the British West Indies, Dr. Joseph took an interest in health care as early on as high school when he volunteered as youth leader in his community church, where he promoted awareness of health disparities. At 17, he became an after school pharmacy volunteer at Harlem Hospital Center, and three years later, he did the same at NYU’s Hospital of Joint Diseases. His experiences there encouraged him to pursue pharmacy as a career. He eventually enrolled at Long Island University for his B.S. in biology and then at TCOP to complete the journey.
“From age 17, I was sold on the impact of becoming a pharmacist. I understood how important this role was in a hospital,” he said. “Then in outpatient clinics, counseling the patients who may be homeless…I was able to see how pharmacists could improve the lifestyle of a community rather than only focusing on medication.”
While at TCOP, Dr. Joseph was a mentor to students who needed tutoring, and participated in community health fairs and student pharmacy organizations. He served as chair of a chronic kidney disease (CKD) initiative that involved hosting an organ donor awareness seminar for World Kidney Day and designed a CKD- friendly recipe guide for patients living with the condition.
Since 2012 and 2014, he has been employed as a pharmacy intern at Rite Aid Pharmacy and Montefiore Medical Center, respectively. Dr. Joseph ultimately plans to work as a clinical pharmacist.