This article describes the history of the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG). From its humble beginning in 1979, to its formation as the Pediatric Directors of Pediatric Hospitals in 1985, through its time as the Pediatric Pharmacy Administrative Group and through its evolution into the PPAG. The organization was established and continues to be dedicated to improving medication therapy use in children. Its sole purpose is to promote safe and effective medication use in children through communication, education, and research. After three decades, PPAG has established itself as the preeminent pediatric pharmacy organization. Its annual conference has grown over the years to become the best educational and networking meeting for pediatric pharmacists worldwide.

Last year, the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG) marked its 30 year anniversary. Like nearly all worthy causes, the idea for the PPAG started with a conversation among a small group of friends and colleagues.

In 1979, Douglas Smith, PharmD, Robert Poole, PharmD, and Stephen Allen, MS began discussing the need for a professional organization whose focus was to assist directors of pharmacy at children's hospitals to better meet the needs of their unique patient populations. At first these trailblazers met informally, but slowly began to formally gather at the American Society of Hospital Pharmacist's Midyear Clinical Meeting. Over the next six years, the group expanded to include directors of pharmacies from children's hospitals across the United States.

During these initial meetings a core group of leaders emerged. Dr. Douglas Smith (Chicago, IL) served as President and Chairman of the Board from 1985–1995 (Table 1). Other charter members include: Stephen Allen, MS (Washington, DC), Joseph Sceppa, MS, MBA (Boston, Massachusetts), Henry “Hank” Wedemeyer, MS (Denver, Colorado), Gary Greiner, PharmD (Columbus, Ohio), David Grinder, MS (St. Petersburg, Florida), Christopher Lomax, PharmD (Los Angeles, California), Robert Warren, PharmD (Fresno, California), Darlene Anderson, BScPharm (Dallas Texas), and Robert Poole, PharmD (Stanford, California). As the network of pharmacy directors grew, the need for a more structured organization became apparent.

Table 1

Presidents or Chairs of the PPAG Board

Presidents or Chairs of the PPAG Board
Presidents or Chairs of the PPAG Board

By 1985, their vision had taken form and the Pharmacy Directors of Pediatric Hospitals (PDPH) organization was born. PDPH held its first Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana during the ASHP Midyear Meeting. The direction of the organization was further shaped during Annual Board of Directors retreats in the Colorado Mountains (Figure 1). In 1987, interest in the group expanded to include associate and clinical directors and managers in pediatric pharmacy. This expansion in membership prompted the group to change its name to the Pediatric Pharmacy Administrative Group.

Figure 1

The very early days of PPAG board of director meeting.

Upper left photo (from left to right): David Grinder, Gary Greiner, Stephen Allen, Kellie McQueen, Julie Till

Upper right photo (from left to right): Douglas Smith, Stephen Allen, Henry Wedemeyer, Kellie McQueen

Lower left photo (from left to right): Merrell Magelli, Gary Greiner, Joseph Sceppa, Hank Wedemeyer, Kellie McQueen, Stephen Allen, Robert Poole

Bottom right (from left to right): Jeff Primovic, Julie Till, Stephen Allen, Douglas Smith, Kellie McQueen

Figure 1

The very early days of PPAG board of director meeting.

Upper left photo (from left to right): David Grinder, Gary Greiner, Stephen Allen, Kellie McQueen, Julie Till

Upper right photo (from left to right): Douglas Smith, Stephen Allen, Henry Wedemeyer, Kellie McQueen

Lower left photo (from left to right): Merrell Magelli, Gary Greiner, Joseph Sceppa, Hank Wedemeyer, Kellie McQueen, Stephen Allen, Robert Poole

Bottom right (from left to right): Jeff Primovic, Julie Till, Stephen Allen, Douglas Smith, Kellie McQueen

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By the early 1990's, the organization continued to grow and membership expanded to include clinical pharmacists, clinical specialists, and academicians whose practice and educational efforts were centered in pediatrics. Struggling to find a voice among the larger pharmacy community, the organization changed its name to the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG) was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1992.

In 1991 the organization received a $200,000 grant from the Kapoor Charitable Foundation to establish The Kapoor Center for Pediatric Drug Information at the Children's Hospital in Denver. The Kapoor Center developed the Pediatric Adverse Drug Event and Reaction Reporting (PADR) Program, which was one of the first national adverse drug reaction/effect reporting programs in the United States. In 1995, PPAG received a $300,000 grant for this initiative from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Center for the Future of Children. The PADR Program expanded to 25 reporting and participating hospitals by 1998. The findings from the PADR program were published in the Journal of Pediatric Pharmacy Practice in 19991 and presented at the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists meeting in Madrid, Spain in 2000.

In 1992, Kellie McQueen, PharmD became the first Executive Director of the organization. Dr. McQueen was a pediatric pharmacist who specialized in drug information and practiced at Denver Children's Hospital. In that same year, the organization held its first meeting at Copper Mountain, Colorado and the Board of Directors changed the organization's name to the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG) to reflect the diverse membership of the organization (Figure 2). The PPAG Annual Conference has grown over the years to become the best educational and networking meeting for pediatric pharmacists worldwide (Table 2).

Figure 2

PPAG changed its name from the Pediatric Pharmacy Administrative Group to the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG).

Figure 2

PPAG changed its name from the Pediatric Pharmacy Administrative Group to the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG).

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Table 2

Meetings and Conference History

Meetings and Conference History
Meetings and Conference History

In 1995, the Board of Directors established the Mission, Vision, and Values of PPAG: The organization is dedicated to improving medication therapy in children. It's sole purpose is to promote safe and effective medication use in children through communication, education, and research. These statements of purpose have not changed and continue as the guiding principles of the organization today.

PPAG MISSION: “We are dedicated to improving medication therapy in children. Our sole purpose is to promote safe and effective medication use in children through communication, education, and research.”

The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacy Practice (JPPP) became the official biomedical journal of PPAG in 1996, with David Grinder, MS serving as the founding editor (Figure 3). Mr. Grinder was director of pharmacy at All Children's Hospital, St. Petersburg, Florida. Although he had a fulltime job, his recognition of the need for a journal that gave the pediatric pharmacy community an avenue for publication and continuing education, caused him to work tirelessly in his capacity as Editor.

Figure 3

Official journal of PPAG

a) Journal of Pediatric Pharmacy Practice (JPPP) 1996.to.2000

b) Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics (JPPT) launched in 2001

Figure 3

Official journal of PPAG

a) Journal of Pediatric Pharmacy Practice (JPPP) 1996.to.2000

b) Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics (JPPT) launched in 2001

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On October 27, 1997, Mr. Grinder represented PPAG at public hearings before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He spoke about the need for regulation that required manufacturers to assess the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and biological products in pediatric patients. Also in 1997, PPAG partnered with Publications International to publish Guidelines for Children's Prescription Drugs (Figure 4). This publication provided accurate information for families about the proper use and administration of medications in children. Later that year, PPAG led the movement to avoid the use of drug name abbreviations. This effort occurred eight years before the Joint Commission addressed the problem.

Figure 4

In 1997, PPAG published Children's Prescription Drug's with Publication International.

Figure 4

In 1997, PPAG published Children's Prescription Drug's with Publication International.

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Dr. Kellie McQueen resigned as Executive Director in 1997, and the day-to-day management of the organization was outsourced to an association management company. Within one year, PPAG severed ties with the group and named Henry “Hank” Wedemeyer, MS as Executive Director (Figure 5). At the time of his appointment Mr. Wedemeyer was director of pharmacy at The Children's Hospital in Denver. During his tenure, he established and organized five very successful annual meetings, including an international gathering held in Vancouver, BC Canada (Table 2). The organization also launched its first website and electronic bulletin board (PediNet) that was dedicated to improving communication among the pediatric pharmacy community. Heading into its third decade, PPAG had 350 active members.

Figure 5

Hank Wedemeyer, MS Executive Director of PPAG from 1998 to 2003.

Figure 5

Hank Wedemeyer, MS Executive Director of PPAG from 1998 to 2003.

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In 2001, The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacy Practice officially changed its name to The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics and selected Stephanie J. Phelps, PharmD as its Editor-in-Chief (Figure 3). At this time, Dr. Phelps was a professor of clinical pharmacy and pediatric at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Under her direction, the Journal became a peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary publication devoted to promoting the safe and effective use of medications in neonates, infants and children. Each quarterly issue included review articles, original clinical investigations, case reports, and other information relevant to pediatric practice. The name of the Journal was trademarked and PPAG began to copyright each issue.

Soon after its launch, the Journal published a groundbreaking article, “Guidelines for Preventing Medication Errors in Pediatrics.”2 These guidelines were co-developed with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and were subsequently endorsed by both the Society of Pediatric Nurses and ASHP. In 2002, PPAG held its first Specialty Meeting for Neonatal Pharmacology in Dallas, Texas.

The Sumner J. Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics was established by PPAG in 2001, with the first recipient being Dr. Yaffe himself (Table 3). The award named in honor of Dr. Yaffe, who is recognized by most as the father of pediatric clinical pharmacology, is given annually to an individual in recognition of their significant and sustained contributions toward the improvement of children's health through the expansion of the field of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics. The Yaffe Lecture is published in JPPT.3–10 

Table 3

Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Yaffe Lifetime Achievement Award in Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics

In conjunction with its 12th Annual Meeting, the PPAG board established and recognized its Honorary Members category and installed its first inductees (Table 4). Mr. Wedemeyer retired as Executive Director of PPAG in 2002 and Matthew R. Helms, MA, CAE became the third Executive Director of PPAG in 2003 (Figure 6). With his appointment, the organization's headquarters moved from Denver, Colorado to its present location in Memphis, Tennessee.

Figure 6

Matthew R. Helms, MA, CAE Executive Director of PPAG from 2003 to present

Figure 6

Matthew R. Helms, MA, CAE Executive Director of PPAG from 2003 to present

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Table 4

Lifetime Honorary Members

Lifetime Honorary Members
Lifetime Honorary Members

PPAG offered its first online continuing pharmacy education program in 2006. The following year, the organization launched a new website (www.ppag.org) and began to offer a quarterly newsletter for its membership. The official newsletter of PPAG became the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocate in 2007 (Figure 7).

Figure 7

PPAG launches Pediatric Pharmacy Advocate in 2007

Figure 7

PPAG launches Pediatric Pharmacy Advocate in 2007

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The Bruce Parks Memorial Residency Project Showcase was established in 2006. Mr. Parks had been a dedicated member of PPAG who was known for his ability to inspire students to pursue a career in pediatric pharmacy. This showcase seeks to stimulate interest in the field of pediatric pharmacy by offering a highly competitive award for the best pediatric pharmacy resident platform presentation given during the spring meeting each year.

In 2006, the Richard A. Helms Excellence in Pediatric Pharmacy Practice Award was established (Table 5). Dr. Helms has distinguished himself as a nationally recognized pharmacy practitioner and researcher with a speciality interest in pediatric nutrition. The Helms Award recognizes 1) sustained and meritorious contributions to PPAG and to pediatric pharmacy practice, and 2) contributions of importance to education, new knowledge, and outreach. Beginning in 2008, the Helms' Lecture has been published annually in JPPT.11,12 

Table 5

Helms Award for Excellence in Pediatric Pharmacy Practice

Helms Award for Excellence in Pediatric Pharmacy Practice
Helms Award for Excellence in Pediatric Pharmacy Practice

In February of 2007, the PPAG Board of Directors officially endorsed the “Shanghai Declaration,” which outlines the organization's commitment to improving safe and reliable medicines for children worldwide.” This endorsement also established PPAG as a member of the International Alliance for Better Medicine. In that same year PPAG launched the JPPT website (www.jppt.org).

In 2008, PPAG established an honorary Fellow category in the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (FPPAG) program and named it first Fellows (Figure 8). The program serves to recognize excellence in pediatric pharmacy practice and to promote public awareness of pharmacists who have distinguished themselves in pediatric pharmacy.

Figure 8

PPAG inducted its first fellows (FPPAG) during its 2009 18th annual meeting.

Marcia Buck, PharmD (upper left); James Dice, PharmD (upper right); Helen Fiechtner, PharmD (lower left); Kay C. Kyllonen, PharmD (lower right)

Figure 8

PPAG inducted its first fellows (FPPAG) during its 2009 18th annual meeting.

Marcia Buck, PharmD (upper left); James Dice, PharmD (upper right); Helen Fiechtner, PharmD (lower left); Kay C. Kyllonen, PharmD (lower right)

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The Local Communities and Networks (LCN) Recognition Program was also established. Through networking events, local programming, regional news and volunteer opportunities, the Local Networks build a community of peers, advance career and volunteer opportunities within the pediatric pharmacy community.

In April of 2008, the Board formally approved the establishment of the first permanent reserve fund. PPAG also launched an online comprehensive Age-based Competency for Pediatrics Program. Furthermore, KidsMeds, a website dedicated to accurate pediatric drug information for parents, families, and caretakers, was also launched (www.kidsmed.info). With the arrival of social networking, PPAG launched sites on both Facebook and Twitter.

In 2009, PPAG maintained its commitment to improving safe and reliable medicines for children worldwide by planning the 1st International Pediatric Pharmacy and Pharmacology Summit in association with the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP). This important event brought international pediatric pharmacy and clinical pharmacology organizations who were involved in the use of medicines in children came together to share research, practice, and ideas to improve pediatric practices. JPPT was approved for inclusion into PubCentral and Sherry Luedtke, PharmD was named as the Associate Editor of JPPT.

The history of PPAG is replete with many noteworthy moments (Table 6). Today, the organization has grown to over 750 members who reside in all 50 states and in 20 foreign countries. From that first conversation among friends, PPAG has grown in size and scope to become the primary resource for pediatric medication therapy in children. PPAG continues to develop educational programs for practitioners and families that will continue to influence the safe and effective use of medications in children for years to come.

Table 6

Significant Milestones in PPAG History

Significant Milestones in PPAG History
Significant Milestones in PPAG History

The assistance of Stephen Allen, MS, Jerrod Milton, BScPharm and Stephanie Phelps, PharmD is appreciated.

PADR

Pediatric Adverse Drug Event and Reaction Reporting

PDPH

Pharmacy Directors of Pediatric Hospitals

PPAG

Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group

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