Young Receives Award at the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s Annual Meeting

IMG_4073The Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA) is pleased to announce the 2014 award recipient of Pharmacy Technician of the Year Award goes to Alissa Young, CPhT, of Ames. The award was presented at the Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting Banquet on June 14 in Altoona.

Alissa Young was born and raised in Spencer, IA. Growing up on a farm, she developed a love of all animals at a young age. She moved to Ames in 2005 to attend Iowa State University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Ecology. In October of 2012, Alissa was hired as a pharmacy technician at NuCara pharmacy in Nevada. She became PTCB-certified the following summer. In March of 2013, she made a career move to Zearing to work at the newly-opened NuCara telepharmacy. Alissa enjoys the rewards and challenges of working with innovative telepharmacy technology and helping the people of Zearing in the process. Alissa and her husband Greg, a Civil Engineer, live in Ames with their two Basset hounds, Brutus and Rocky.

The Pharmacy Technician of the Year Award is an award designed to recognize a pharmacy technician in Iowa who has demonstrated outstanding involvement in the Iowa Pharmacy Association and enthusiasm for the profession of pharmacy in Iowa.

Alissa’s nominator said, “Alissa has a great work ethic and exemplifies the potential brilliant career that one can have as a pharmacy technician and we are grateful to have her on our team.”



Brett Barker, Pharm.D. Receives GenerationRx Award


The Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA) is pleased to announce the 2014 recipient of the GenerationRx Award is Brett Barker, PharmD, of Nevada. The award was presented at the Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting on June 14 in Altoona.

The GenerationRx Award is a national awards program sponsored by Cardinal Health. This award is designed to recognize a pharmacist who has demonstrated excellence in community-based prescription drug abuse prevention. The award is intended to recognize outstanding efforts within the pharmacy community to raise awareness of this serious public health problem. It is also intended to encourage educational prevention efforts aimed at patients, youth, and other members of the community. This award includes a $500 donation to the charity of the recipient’s choice.

Dr. Brett Barker is the Vice President of Operations for NuCara Management Group. Brett received his Doctor of Pharmacy in 2008 from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy. Prior to this current role, Brett managed the NuCara Pharmacy in Nevada, IA and also served as NuCara’s Director of Clinical Services. Throughout his career, Brett has been passionate about increasing pharmacist-provided clinical services, community involvement, mentoring students, and new models of care delivery such as telepharmacy and new practice model pilot programs. He currently serves on the IPA Legislative Advisory Committee, Telepharmacy Joint Task Force, and is Vice Chair of the Iowa Pharmacy Political Action Committee (IPPAC) Advisory Committee. He has coordinated numerous community medication take-back events and brought together all interested stakeholders.

“ Dr. Barker truly sets a new standard in innovative, progressive, and visible pharmacist-led initiatives for proper medication disposal in his community,” said Kate Gainer, Executive Vice President of the Iowa Pharmacy Association.

Celiac Disease – What’s behind the “gluten-free” craze?

As time passes, so do health food trends.  During the past twenty years, fads have ranged from the grapefruit diet, to low-fat regimens, to the Atkins no-carb craze, to the Mediterranean lifestyle, to the organic/raw/local movement.  Today, cake mixes, cereals, pasta, salad dressings, and many other food products and restaurant chains have replaced the popular “Fat Free” or “Low Carb” logos with “Gluten Free”.  So, why has consumer focus shifted to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that makes our bread chewy?

One likely reason is the increasing diagnosis of celiac disease.  With an estimated 1% of the population suspected to have celiac disease, it has become the most common autoimmune disorder in theUnited States.  While there is somewhat of a genetic link, this disease can affect all ages, races, and genders.

In individuals with celiac disease, the gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats causes their body to over-react, leading to inflammation and injury to the intestines.  Diagnosis is difficult because only about half of patients suffer from digestion problems.  Other nondescript symptoms often occur, such as fatigue, irritability, depression, behavioral problems in children, malnutrition, anemia, alopecia (balding), decreased bone density, decreased levels of essential vitamins and minerals (Vitamins D, A, K, E, calcium, iron), and infertility.  As a result of these vague symptoms, many people go undiagnosed and are not treated.  Without treatment, patients will likely report “not feeling well” most of the time, and they may develop a number of complications, including osteoporosis, anemia, gastrointestinal cancers, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and mnay more.

The only treatment for celiac disease currently is a strict, life-long, gluten-free diet.  Because the consumption of any gluten causes the exaggerated inflammatory reaction in the intestines and throughout the body, it is not safe for a person with celiac disease to even consume “just a little bit” of gluten.  This means their food must contain no wheat, wheat products (bulgur, durum flour, farina, semolina, spelt, kamut, graham flour), barley, or rye.  Additionally, oats are commonly cross-contaminated during the harvesting and manufacturing process, making them unsafe.  Mayo Clinic advises that individuals with gluten intolerances should avoid consuming and cross-contamination with the following items, unless labeled “gluten-free”:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes/Pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Croutons
  • Food additives (malt flavoring, modified food starch)
  • French Fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meats or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Medications and vitamins
  • Pastas
  • Play dough
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, including chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup-bases
  • Vegetables in sauce

The above list can seem intimidating, especially when first diagnosed with celiac disease, but patients should remember that they still have options that they can enjoy without searching for a “gluten-free” label. “Safe foods” includes

  • Beans
  • Corn/Cornmeal
  • Eggs, fresh
  • Flax
  • Fruits
  • Hominy
  • Rice/Soy/Potato/Corn Fours
  • Juices
  • Meats/Poultry/Fish
    • (NOT processed, imitation, breaded, marinated)
  •  Milk
  • Millet
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Vegetables

While the list of things to avoid does include medications and play dough, it is important to note that an item with gluten must be consumed or ingested for it to be capable of producing intestinal inflammation.  This means that you can still handle play dough if you have celiac disease; you will be safe as long as you do not eat it.  In regards to medications that contain gluten, most do not.  And if they do, it is always in the form of inactive ingredients used to sweeten, bind, suspend, or “bulk-up” the drug product.  Your pharmacist can check if your medication is gluten free.  She/he can examine the list of inactive ingredients for “red-flag” ingredients and then contact the products manufacturer to verify whether the product is gluten free.


Mangione, R.A., Jay, L., & Wisner, J.H. (March 7, 2011). Celiac Disease Training for Pharmacists. [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

August 2, 2011. Gluten-free diet: What’s allowed, what’s not. Retrieved from