A pharmaceutical sciences graduate of St. John’s University in New York, Ellen Scharaga has spent more than five years with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy in the role of operational consultant. In this position, Ellen Scharaga supports the organization in developing and offering a wide range of medications for the treatment of numerous chronic health conditions, from hepatitis C to organ transplants.
Identifying the symptoms of hepatitis C (HCV), a viral infection impacting the liver, can be difficult, as signs of the infection are typically mild and resemble symptoms of common afflictions, such as the flu. In some cases, individuals may go decades without knowing they have the virus, which is only diagnosed after medical professionals begin investigating liver damage.
Between 70 and 80 percent of individuals with acute HCV, which may go away on its own up to six months after exposure, never experience symptoms, earning the disease the nickname “the silent killer.” Symptoms that do arise can manifest anywhere from two weeks to six months after being exposed to the virus, with common ailments including chronic exhaustion, joint, muscle, and stomach pain, darkly colored urine, and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Any person who notices these symptoms and feels they may have been exposed to HCV should immediately contact his or her doctor. HCV left untreated in the body for over six months can become chronic HCV, for which there is no cure, and often damages the liver for more than 15 years before being diagnosed.
Ellen Scharaga contributes to Alegria Specialty Pharmacy’s mission of innovating drugs for conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS to arthritis. In her spare time, Ellen Scharaga enjoys reading a good book.
Science has discovered multiple physical and psychological benefits to reading. These include:
- Stress relief. Stress plays a major role in poor health, and but reading can help. A British study found that reading reduced stress levels by up to 68 percent, which is better than walking or listening to music. Even reading for as little as 6 minutes slows the pulse and alleviates tense muscles.
- Staving off cognitive decline. People who read (or write) tend to have less of the physical brain damage that leads to dementia. Furthermore, reading builds what researchers call cognitive reserve—the ability of the brain to recover from strokes and other damage. This is due in part to the large vocabulary of avid bookworms. And in all phases of life, reading has been shown to boost intelligence.
- Sleeping better. The old habit of reading at bedtime has been proven to help people move from wakefulness to drowsiness. In contrast, the modern habit of using a smartphone before bed actually interferes with the quality and duration of sleep.
- Enhanced social skills. Books, and especially fiction, lead to higher levels of empathy because they expose readers to the thoughts and feelings of others. This in turn improves one’s personal relationships.
- Longevity. Although the precise mechanism is not yet known, reading appears to increase one’s lifespan. A 2019 Yale University study found that people who read more than 3.5 hours per week were 23 percent less likely than non-readers to die during a 12-year study period.
A graduate of St. John’s University in New York with a bachelor of science in pharmacology, Ellen Scharaga has held leadership positions with OncoMed, Baxter International, and Abel Health Management Services. Since 2014, she has served as an operational consultant with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy, a New York pharmacy that belongs to the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA).
Committed to helping prescribers and providers create custom medicines, the PCCA comprises 4000 members and operates five distribution centers. PCCA membership offers pharmaceutical professionals tips and resources that help increase profit margins and build a successful compounding practice. Membership includes 24/7 access to PCCA’s Clinical Support Team, which includes chemists, pharmacists, and PhDs who can answer complex questions about formulations and calculations. Members can also benefit from more than 115 live and online educational events on topics ranging from compounding basics to specialty practice areas. Finally, PCCA provides members with marketing tools such as PowerPoint presentations and social media content to help them grow their practice.
Ellen Scharaga, an experienced pharmacologist, serves with Algeria Specialty Pharmacy as an operational consultant. Her responsibilities include supporting Algeria in its efforts to develop novel medications for conditions such as HIV and chronic pain. A pharmacist engaged with the broader medical community, Ellen Scharaga gives back by supporting the Alzheimers Foundation of America, a nonprofit dedicated to educating and helping people and families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease exhibit relatively mild symptoms that do not prevent them from living independently. For instance, they might forget where they placed an object, find themselves unable to come up with the right word, become confused when attempting to plan something, and/or fail to remember a recently read text.
Over time, however, Alzheimer’s worsens as patients enter the disease’s middle stage, which is usually the longest--lasting through a period of many years. As symptoms worsen in this stage, these patients typically require more care. They exhibit symptoms like anger or frustration at their inability to remember facts like their phone numbers or even intimate information about their own lives. Patients may also become prone to wandering and getting lost.
In the final stage, when the disease is at its most severe, patients may lose their ability to communicate altogether. Moreover, they can become so cognitively impaired as to be unable to care for themselves. Late stage Alzheimer’s patients often need specialized, 24-hour attention to stay safe and comfortable.
To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and to donate funds to benefit people living with Alzheimer's, please visit alzfdn.org.
An experienced pharmacy services executive, Ellen Scharaga has served as an operational consultant at Alegria Specialty Pharmacy since 2014. Alongside her day-to-day profession, Ellen Scharaga maintains memberships in groups such as the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP) and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP).
For more than three decades, AMCP has provided various programs and resources for pharmacists, doctors, and other health care professionals who practice in managed care settings. One of the organization's most popular offerings is the AMCP Annual Meeting, which recently took place on March 25-28, 2019, in San Diego.
Over 4,000 attendees gathered at the four-day event to take part in an education program comprising nearly 40 sessions organized across six learning tracks. The sessions covered topics ranging from drug pricing reform and pharmaceutical marketplace trends to drug development and patient management. The meeting also featured sessions on Medicare and Medicaid, value-based contracting, and direct-to-consumer funding programs.
Other highlights of the AMCP 2019 Annual Meeting included a keynote address from Dr. Margaret Heffernan, an award-winning author and business leader. In addition, the latest products and services from over 120 exhibiting companies were on display in the event's expo hall.
An experienced pharmacy professional, Ellen Scharaga has served with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy as an operational consultant since 2014. In her work, Ellen Scharaga often collaborates with other organizations, including the American Cancer Society (ACS).
According to a recent report highlighted by ACS, the advances in screening and treatment of cancer may not be accessible to a significant portion of the public without interventions in the American healthcare system. Over a 24-year period (1991-2015), the death rate from cancer significantly fell in the United States, but that improvement depended upon the socio-economic status of patients. Today, many cancers that can be effectively treated or prevented go unchecked because of the lack of patients' access to adequate health care and screenings.
Health systems must be transformed in a way that addresses these challenges. People from all backgrounds should have ready access to primary care providers through affordable healthcare plans.
Further, primary care providers should be able to communicate with specialists and other providers in a more streamlined manner. In addition, all providers should be educating their patients on healthy lifestyle habits.
An accomplished pharmacy professional, Ellen Scharaga serves with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy as an operational consultant. In her career, Ellen Scharaga often works with other organizations that fight deadly diseases, including the American Cancer Society (ACS).
A recent report published in the American Cancer Society Journal reveals that health system reform still represents a major hurdle to current cancer care and future breakthroughs in cancer treatment. While cancer mortality rates have dropped significantly over the 24-year period between 1991 and 2015, some demographics did not actually experience improved outcomes. These demographics represent those who have barriers to health care based on race, ethnicity, socioeconomic standing, geography, and other factors.
Cancers that could be prevented often go undetected, and thus untreated, in these demographics, leading to mortality rates that would not be present in other groups who benefit from current health systems. Some of the suggested healthcare system reforms in the article include:
- greater access to affordable primary health care,
- better coordination between healthcare providers,
- awareness efforts that promote healthy lifestyles, and
- patient-centered care.
A graduate of pharmacology from St. John’s University, Ellen Scharaga works as an operational consultant for Alegria Specialty Pharmacy. Outside of her work at Alegria, Ellen Scharaga maintains an affiliation with the Pharmacists Society of the State of New York (PSSNY).
A nonprofit organization, PSSNY was designed to extend pharmaceutical knowledge among pharmacists in New York State. PSSNY’s main motive is to unite all pharmacists in the state with the goal of improving the standards of pharmacy practice both professionally and ethically.
In addition to its role in advancing the standards of practice and propagating pharmaceutical knowledge through various means, including continuing education classes, PSSNY advocates for various legislative actions. The organization’s 2018 legislative agenda includes expanding patients’ access to care through comprehensive medication management, synchronization of medication refills, and expanding access to basic lab tests. Moreover, PSSNY advocates against high costs for prescription medications. The organization also works to safeguard patients by recognizing registered and certified pharmacy technicians.
Ellen Scharaga serves as an operational consultant for Alegria Specialty Pharmacy, where she assists in developing and delivering medications that help patients manage various chronic conditions. In addition to her work, Ellen Scharaga maintains membership with the Alzheimer’s Foundation, which was founded in 2002 to provide care and services to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other related illnesses.
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder in which the brain cells start to die, causing memory loss and a decrease in cognitive ability. Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, and it has three stages that include mild Alzheimer’s (early stage), moderate Alzheimer’s (middle-stage) and severe Alzheimer’s (late-stage).
In the early stage, although a person may function independently, he or she likely faces memory lapses. Struggling to remember names, losing and misplacing different objects, and having trouble with planning or organizing are some of the common difficulties people experience during the early stage of the disease.
The second stage is usually the longest among the three stages. Typically, a person in this stage has problems with mood or behavior, such as getting angry or frustrated, behaving in an unusual way, and confusing words. Other symptoms of this stage include changes in sleeping patterns, the risk of becoming lost, the inability to recall phone numbers or addresses, and the forgetting of one’s own personal details.
In the last stage of Alzheimer’s, a person is not able to communicate effectively and loses the ability to respond and carry on conversations. The person may be able to say a few phrases, but not complete sentences. Some of the symptoms of this stage involve a person’s physical abilities, including trouble walking, sitting, and eventually swallowing. A caretaker must be present, as the patient’s ability to perform daily activities and personal care tasks decreases and gradually comes to a stop.
As a registered pharmacist and dedicated health care professional, Ellen Scharaga holds the position of operational consultant at Alegria Specialty Pharmacy. In this role, Ellen Scharaga helps improve health outcomes for patients by providing them with in specialty medications to manage chronic health conditions. When not working, Ms. Scharaga enjoys activities including volunteering, reading and walking.
Walking is known to improve memory function by enhancing blood flow to the brain. One study demonstrated that elderly people who walked three times per week for 40 minutes increased the volume of their hippocampus, the main part of the brain associated with memory function, by 2 percent. This finding is significant, since the volume of the hippocampus typically declines by approximately 1 percent each year after 50.
Research shows that aside from boosting brain function, walking at least 2,000 steps per day also helps to defend against diabetes, reduce heart-related events such as stroke and heart attack, and lower the risk for breast cancer in females. Walking may even be as effective as drug treatments for managing health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.