Saturday morning coffee [July 21 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the taps that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right is in honor of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I am a Batman fan from way back. Don’t believe me, ask my brother. I was reading the comic books, a.k.a. “graphic novels” long before Michael Keaton invented the movie role back in the late 80’s. The mug itself comes from Six Flags Magic Mountain down in Valencia, CA. Six Flags is a DC Comic themed park, so of course they have a lot of Batman paraphernalia. The park is only about three hours from my home so my family and I have season passes and head down there 2-3 times a year. I don’t do roller coasters anymore, but my kids enjoy them. Me? I eat my way around the park; freshly make sugar-cinnamon donuts, ice cream, popcorn, churros, and of course funnel cake. Don’t forget about the funnel cake. I get mine with whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce. Been thinking about piling ice cream on top, but haven’t gone that far yet.

Ice Age: Continental Drift was #1 at the box office last weekend. My family and I saw it. Not bad, really. It’s exactly what you’d expect. Make no mistake, next week the #1 box office money maker will be The Dark Knight Rises.

– Speaking of The Dark Knight Rises, I went to the website this morning to grab the link and found the message below from the film’s director, Christopher Nolan. In case you’ve missed it, the reference to the Aurora community has to do with the Aurora Shooting early yesterday morning in which a man armed to the teeth went on a shooting spree in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater screening the new Dark Knight movie. The theater was packed, of course. I don’t know what the final numbers will be, but one report I read listed 12 dead and 50 injured. The gunman was taken into custody following the incident. Tragic, senseless and sad. I’m not a member of the NRA, or some gun nut, but I do support the right to own guns. At times like this it’s difficult for me to justify such a position in my mind. I understand that guns don’t actually make decisions to kill people, but having them in the hands of nut-job like this sure makes you think.

– I went on a continuing education hunt this week. My pharmacy license isn’t due for renewal until January 2013, so I’m in no hurry for CE, but I thought I’d look at some courses nonetheless. I came across a course called “Automated Pharmacy Workflow: Analyze, Optimize, and Maximize Productivity- An Industrial Engineers Perspective”. Besides having a mouthful for a title, the presentation mentions RxCalc, which is a pharmacokinetics calculator that I conceived years ago and Robert, my brother, coded and developed. Kind of cool to see that.

Medscape News: “Repeated use of single-use medication vials has been linked to the transmission of life-threatening Staphylococcus aureus infection in 10 patients treated for pain in outpatient clinics in Arizona and Delaware, according to a new study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)” – When I first saw the headline for this article I panicked. I hate to see pharmacy getting negative press. Turns out that these cases were caused by repeated use of single-dose vials in clinics. So instead of being a black eye for pharmacy it’s a trumpet call for clinics to make sure to use pharmacies for all their medication preparation.

– I found a new website about chemical information software this week. The site is called Cheminformatics 2.0, and it’s pretty cool. It’s hard for me not to get excited when I find a website dedicated to chemistry, especially chemistry software designed for mobile devices. Following links on the site led me to Molecular Materials Informatics where I spent half a day rummaging around. Neat, neat stuff. One of the products in particular caught my attention: Open Drug Discovery Teams (ODDT). Here’s a presentation from Slideshare that details the product:

Health Systems (May 2012) [article]: Patient-based pharmaceutical inventory management: a two-stage inventory and production model for perishable products with Markovian demand. Say what! The authors developed a mathematical model to try and predict patient need for meropenem ahead of time. What’s interesting is that this type of thing would be great if eventually distilled down so that it was quick and easy to use. New software for pharmacy?


Drug shortages have increased over the past decade, tripling since 2006. Pharmacy material managers are challenged with developing inventory policies given changing demand, limited suppliers, and regulations affecting supply. Pharmaceutical inventory management and patient care are inextricably linked; suboptimal control impacts both patient treatment and the cost of care. We study a perishable inventory problem motivated by challenges in pharmaceutical management. Inpatient hospital pharmacies stock medications in two stages, raw material and finished good (e.g. intravenous). While both stages of material are perishable, the finished form is highly perishable. Pharmacy demand depends on the population and patient conditions. We use a stochastic ‘demand state’ as a surrogate for patient condition and develop a Markov decision process to determine optimal, state-dependent two-stage inventory and production policies. We define two ordering and production scenarios, prove the existence of optimal solutions for both scenarios, and apply this framework to the management of Meropenem.

– I’ve decided to write a White Paper on the future state of pharmacy. You know, a really long article that describes where pharmacy should go and how to get there. It’s a project for work, but interesting anyway. While doing research for the paper I came across this article in Pharmacotherapy. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud a few times as I read through the article. Published in 2000, it could be republished today and called the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI) from ASHP, which was designed and developed in 2010. In other words, the profession of pharmacy has managed to do nothing new for a really long time. Take a look other industries during that time: publishing, computer, consumer electronics, music, movie, and so on.

PlusDelta Technologies – Never heard of these guys? No surprise as they’ve just never made a big hit in the pharmacy industry. That’s unfortunate because they make some really cool mobile applications for pharmacy. I met their COO back in the summer of 2011 and had some great conversations. We were planning to do some joint projects, but it never panned out. Bummer.

- Dusting Off the Shelf: Polymyxin B? – “It seems that when I am on hospital rounds, more and more frequently we are encountering gram-negative organisms that have highly resistant profiles, and we are trying to sort out whether we have any parenteral or oral drugs available to treat these ill patients with infections. For example, KPC (Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase)-producing organisms are highly resistant, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa is taking up more and more of our time in thinking about drug treatment.” – We used to use IV Polymyxin in kids with cystic fibrosis and particularly stubborn pulmonary Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Just thought that this little blurb was interesting.

– Do you ever use Windows Notepad? It’s such a small text editor that has little to no functionality, but I use it all the time. One of the things I love about it is that it doesn’t change my text, i.e. there’s no formatting. Notepad is almost always open on my desktop. I use it to take little notes here and there throughout the day. At the end of the day I check my notes, decide if they’re important or not and close it. Sometimes the simple things really are the best.

– I downloaded the Office 2013 Customer Preview this week. So far, so good. The biggest change is obviously the push to utilize Microsoft’s SkyDrive and make it a little more touch friendly. Not sure they accomplished the latter. Anyway, I’m still working through the applications. I’ll keep you posted.

– Want to know what’s really weird about the Office 2013 Customer Preview? It doesn’t include OneNote MX, which is the Metro-styled version of OneNote for Windows 8. You have to go to the Microsoft app store in Windows 8 and search for it. It’s quite a departure from the Office 2013 apps. It’s designed for Metro, not the standard Windows desktop. The biggest difference is the new radial touch menu (image to the left). I think I’ve seen something like that before……cough…InkSeine!.

– Saw this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza. Mmmm, worth a try. I’ve used cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes before. Put enough butter and salt on anyth

– Well, chemistry will never be the same again. From Chemistry World: “Researchers have described a new type of chemical bond distinct from the two classic modes of atomic bonding – ionic and covalent. The new bonding, predicted by complex quantum mechanical computations, occurs only in hugely powerful magnetic fields – tens of thousands of times greater than can be generated in the laboratory. Such strong magnetic fields are not fanciful, however. They exist in the vicinity of certain types of rotating stars, such as white dwarfs.” The article referenced in the story, A Paramagnetic Bonding Mechanism for Diatomics in Strong Magnetic Fields, appears in the July 20 2012 issue of Science.

– My family and I are going on vacation starting the middle of next week. In preparation I purchased some new music from the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Marilyn Manson, Paramore and Foo Figthers this week.

Have another cup of coffee and have a great weekend everyone!

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