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Forinash Selected to Serve on NIH Task Force on Maternal-Fetal Health Research

Published on 17 February 2020

Alicia Forinash, B.S. '00, Pharm.D. '01, FCCP, BCPS, BCACP, professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, was recently selected to serve on a working group for the Task Force on Research Specific to Pregnant Women and Lactating Women (PRGLAC), which was formed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) recruited Forinash to serve on PRGLAC because of her recognized expertise in maternal-fetal health.

PRGLAC was established to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to address gaps in knowledge and research on safe and effective therapies for pregnant and lactating women in order to ensure that these patient populations and their caregivers are better informed about their health and therapeutic options.

The task force includes the directors of NIH, representatives from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the HHS Office on Women's Health, and the Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Non-federal members include representatives from relevant medical societies, non-profit organizations and industry. The committee has been working together for the past several months and will present their findings to Congress by the end of the year.

As part of PRGLAC, Forinash is lending her unique clinical perspective on the critical issues faced by pregnant and lactating mothers, as their health care providers work to manage their chronic conditions and health risks.

“As a clinical pharmacist, I have been able to talk about the role that pharmacists play in educating and treating these patient populations,” explained Forinash. “And because I work directly with patients, I was also able to relay the concerns I’ve heard from patients and health care providers.”

Forinash explained that the issues she addresses with pregnant or lactating patients go beyond medication management because medications carry different risks at different times during pregnancy due to the changing development of the fetus.

The risks are especially high among pregnant and lactating patients with chronic conditions, making it critical for them to work closely with a pharmacist to weigh the risks of using a medication versus leaving a condition untreated in order to select the appropriate therapy.

“Pharmacists have a huge role in all aspects of women's care,” Forinash explained. “Not only are we the most accessible health care provider within the community setting, but we are the medication experts. Particularly with those who are pregnant, we have a great opportunity to educate them and their health care providers about the safety of medications during all stages of pregnancy, while also helping them understand the risks of leaving chronic medical conditions untreated and how to balance those concerns.”

As her service on the task force continues, Forinash says she’s honored to share her expertise on a national level.

“It has been a great experience, and I feel like I was able to contribute,” Forinash explained. “It’s been an honor working alongside these individuals, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as we finalize our report.”

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