U confident in lobbying for pharmacy funding

By By Chris Mumford

By Chris Mumford

With ground already broken for the new College of Pharmacy building, the task now is to find the prescription that will convince lawmakers to approve the additional $20 million needed for its completion.

Students and members of the community connected to the college will lobby the Capital Facilities Appropriations Subcommittee for the additional $20 million this fall, but they expect a tough battle with the economy just beginning to recover from a deep recession.
“It will not be an easy year,” said Kim Wirthlin, senior vice president of government relations for the U. “But one of the things that we have that a lot of the other projects don’t have is private money.”

The lion’s share of the building’s $69 million price tag has already been secured through several large private contributions, including a donation from the ALSAM Foundation, created by the family of L.S. Skaggs Jr.

The building is being created to bring together pharmacy students and researchers who are scattered across six buildings.

“We are running out of research space for them,” Wirthlin said.
The college ranks second in the nation for research and, according to Wirthlin, is one of the U’s best schools in terms of converting that research into real-world applications. JSK Therapeutics, a developer of anti-cancer drugs, is one of 23 companies to come out of the U this year that is saving lives thanks to this research.

U President Michael Young said that the program had tripled its research budget in recent years and brings in enormous revenue for the state through the resulting applications.
“If you add in the companies that have been spun out of (the College of Pharmacy), it’s a powerful, powerful force,” he said.

The state would raise $20 million through bonding, which is limited in capacity, Wirthlin noted, and will force U lobbyists to make a strong case for the economic viability of the project.

Helping their case is the fact that a substantial portion of the funding has already been secured, Wirthlin said.

“We can begin building immediately, which further stimulates the economy,” she said.