St. John’s Pharmacy Students Take Top Prizes at National Competition

October 30, 2020

A team of 26 students wielded their collaborative skills and knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry to claim national, first-place status in the 2019–20 Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO)’s Value of Industry Pharmacists (VIP) Case Competition.

The St. John’s University chapter of students from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS) placed first among 43 challengers. “As a highly competitive competition, this came as a huge accomplishment to our chapter as we are fairly young in the IPhO world,” said Lexie Villariasa, Pharm.D. candidate and President of the chapter, which is in its fifth year of existence.

The team also scored the highest on the 2019–20 Annual Report—with a ranking of 27.25 out of 30 among all 65 participating chapters. “This is our second time achieving this, with our first in the 2016–17 academic year,” Lexie explained.

The goal of the VIP Case Competition is for IPhO chapters to demonstrate their pharmaceutical industry knowledge and application of the commercial functions involved in designing a comprehensive drug development plan, including clinical development, regulatory, medical, and commercial strategies. This industry-based case scenario takes student pharmacists from the initial concept all the way through to approval and marketing of the product.

The competition enables students to delve into multiple disciplines within the pharmaceutical industry as they develop their hypothetical drug. Each phase of the drug’s development life cycle presents a unique challenge that encourages students to think strategically and apply their clinical and pharmaceutical industry knowledge.

“I am proud of the St. John’s IPhO chapter for its success in bringing recognition of St. John’s University to the national level,” said Somnath Pal, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Pharmacy Administration and Public Health, and faculty advisor for the chapter. “The CPHS and the University are blessed to have such talented students whom we are privileged to help develop and demonstrate their professional skills while still enrolled in the educational program.”

Lexie, who will earn her Pharm.D. in 2022, noted other developments regarding the IPhO chapter’s offerings. They include expansion of its mentor-mentee program and the release of two volumes of the chapter newsletter, where student writers highlighted and showcased updates within the pharmaceutical industry. 

“These are all exciting achievements, and we are so humbled and honored to have received such recognition,” Lexie said. “We could not have done this without all of the hard work and support from our past and present e-board members, chapter members, and faculty mentors. We look forward to the continued growth of our chapter and are excited for our future!”