Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing

Center News

New Faculty

This August, we welcomed a new Faculty Affiliate to our Center. Ravy K. Vajravelu, MD, MSCE joined the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition after being recruited from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. His work focuses on developing precision medicine tools that inform therapeutic decision making in gastroenterology by integrating insights from across biomedical science. He has a K award from NIDDK. We look forward to new collaborations with Dr. Vajravelu!

Faculty Awards

Faculty Affiliate Dr. Utibe Essien recently added two awards to his already impressive award shelf. First, Dr. Essien received the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2021 Herbert W. Nickens Faculty Fellowship Award. The award recognizes a junior faculty member committed to a career in academic medicine and displaying leadership in addressing disparities. Another organization that recognized Dr. Essien’s growing list of accomplishments was Pittsburgh Magazine, which included him in their 2021 list of “40 Under 40.” Congratulations!

CP3 Associate Director Dr. Katie Suda was honored with the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy Research Impact Award. This award recognizes UIC College of Pharmacy alumni who have distinguished themselves through research. Dr. Suda also received her official designation as Professor with Tenure. Read more below on two of Dr. Suda’s new grants.

Congratulations are also in order for Dr. Tom Radomski, another Faculty Affiliate, who was honored with the UPMC Excellence in Patient Experience Award for being a top-rated Internal Medicine physician within UPMC health system, per CG-CAHPS Patient Satisfaction Scores.

Research Highlight

CP3 Associate Director Dr. Katie Suda is a leading expert on dental prescribing practices, and her research has revealed dentists’ overprescribing of opioids. With Pitt Dental’s Dr. Deborah Polk and the American Dental Association’s Dr. Alonso Carrasco-Labra, Dr. Suda is working on an FDA grant to develop evidence-based clinical guidelines for dentists to better manage their patients’ acute pain.

Grant Funded

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected supply and use of many medications. In her newly funded R01 project, Dr. Katie Suda will conduct a comprehensive examination of how the pandemic has impacted the drug supply chain. Funded by AHRQ, this project will give policymakers evidence to better plan for future supply chain disruptions and shortages. Study Co-Investigators are Pitt’s Drs. Walid Gellad, Scott Rothenberger, Lisa Maillart, UC San Diego’s Dr. Inma Hernandez, and the University of Toronto’s Dr. Mina Tadrous.

Major recent published papers

A Policy Prescription for Reducing Health Disparities—Achieving Pharmacoequity
Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH; Stacie B. Dusetzina, PhD; Walid F. Gellad, MD, MPH
JAMA, October 22, 2021

Pharmacoequity: a new goal for ending disparities in U.S. health care
Utibe Essien
STAT News, July 28, 2021

Buprenorphine Dispensing in Pennsylvania During the COVID-19 Pandemic, January to October 2020
Rohan Chalasani BA, Jared M. Shinabery MPH, Carrie Thomas Goetz PhD, Chung-Chou H. Chang PhD, Qingnan Yang MS, MA, Katie J. Suda PharmD, MS, FCCP, & Walid F. Gellad MD, MPH
Journal of General Internal Medicine, August 10, 2021

Racial inequity in medication treatment for opioid use disorder: Exploring potential facilitators and barriers to use
Mara A G Hollander, Chung-Chou H Chang, Antoine B Douaihy, Eric Hulsey, Julie M Donohue
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, July 28, 2021

Disparities in Anticoagulant Therapy Initiation for Incident Atrial Fibrillation by Race/Ethnicity Among Patients in the Veterans Health Administration System
Utibe R. Essien, MD, MPH; Nadejda Kim, MA; Leslie R. M. Hausmann, PhD, MS; Maria K. Mor, PhD; Chester B. Good, MD, MPH; Jared W. Magnani, MD, MSc; Terrence M. A. Litam, MHA; Walid F. Gellad, MD, MPH; Michael J. Fine, MD, MSc
JAMA Network Open, July 28, 2021


In the Media

Drug ads are an omnipresent, yet uniquely U.S., phenomenon. Dr. Julie Donohue, Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management and CP3 Faculty Affiliate, spoke with NPR's Planet Money about the effects of these ads on consumers and prescribers.

Dr. Walid Gellad spoke with the New York Times about Covid-19 vaccines for children, to NBC News about the risk of myocarditis from the Pfizer vaccine, and to the Washington Post about differing interpretations about Covid-19 booster shot data.

Black patients at the VA are less likely to receive blood thinners for Atrial Fibrillation, according to a study led by Dr. Utibe Essien. Essien spoke with NPR affiliate WHYY about the findings and what they might mean for health outcomes.


In October, Dr. Tom Radomski was invited to present on “Opportunities to Decrease Low-Value Prescribing: Translating Research into Practical Clinical Solutions” during the University of Pittsburgh Department of Medicine’s Update in Internal Medicine. Dr. Radomski currently has a grant to study low-value prescribing in older adults.

Members of the NIH’s JCOIN (Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network) Steering Committee invited Dr. Walid Gellad to present his team’s work developing machine learning algorithms to predict risk of opioid overdose in a criminal justice-involved population in Allegheny County. To learn more about this and our other machine learning projects, see the Health Academy information below.


Machine learning and predictive analytics are increasingly common in health care, but how can they be used to intervene in public health settings? On December 14 at noon, join CP3 Director Dr. Walid Gellad and former CP3 postdocs Dr. Jenny Lo-Ciganic and Dr. Serena Guo for a virtual Health Academy where they’ll present work on developing and implementing risk prediction algorithms for opioid overdose. Register here.

Do you recognize Dr. Fauci, his “BOOO”-ster shot, and their antibodies? It’s Dr. Tom Radomski and family in their Halloween costumes!

University of Pittsburgh