sealPurdue Business, Finance, Technology Briefs

February 2001

Prescription for pharmacist: A change in dosage

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – If the pace of filling prescriptions continues to advance at its current rate, it soon may take you longer to open a child-proof container than it takes a pharmacist to fill a dozen medicine bottles.

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"Fifteen years ago a pharmacist considered it a very busy day to fill 100 prescriptions in a single day, but today they fill twice that many on an average day," says Patrick George, associate director of Purdue University's pharmaceutical student services office. "Also, our current technology allows up to 500 prescriptions to be filled in a single day."

Figures from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores support George's observation. About 3 billion prescriptions were filled in 1998, up from 2 billion in 1992. This number is expected to reach 4 billion by 2005.

There are several reasons for the increased demand for prescriptions, including the health needs of an aging population, the availability of new drugs, and the steady increase of co-pay insurance programs.

These changes, along with the rise of chain drug stores, have caused a national shortage of practicing pharmacists. Educators say a change in the practice of pharmacy, rather than an increase in the number of retail pharmacists, is the way to respond to the shortage.

"As a whole, universities cannot dramatically increase the number of graduates in the field of pharmacy. This is because the educational and physical facilities needed to teach a certified pharmacist just aren't susceptible to rapid change," says Charles O. Rutledge, dean of Purdue's Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Although the number of practicing pharmacists is not expected to grow to meet the demand, there are several ways to lessen the demands on the typical pharmacist.

"In Indiana, a pharmacist can have four assisting technicians at a given time, and that is a help," George says. "Also, a change in the 'third-party' system is imperative."

The third-party system requires the pharmacist to spend a good part of the day coordinating a variety of insurance payment plans.

"Pharmacist have to take the time to figure out the insurance program of each patient, and make sure the prescription they have is covered by that insurance, and if it isn't they have to call the doctor and find out if there is another drug that is covered by the insurance the doctor might want prescribe instead," George says. "It's all very complicated and time consuming."

Statistics show the average pharmacist spends up to 22 percent of each day on these types of matters, and that intensifies the need for more retail pharmacists.

"Right now retail pharmacy is in such high demand that our graduates get an average of three offers each, and just over 85 percent will go to work for a major drug store chain" George says.

One reason pharmacy graduates choose retail work is that salaries in that field have risen in tandem with the demand. In 1996 the average annual pay was $56,027. Three years later the average retail chain salary rose to $65,353 – more than a 16 percent increase.

CONTACTS: Patrick George, (765) 494-5812,; Charles O. Rutledge, (765) 494-1368,

Conducting nuclear pharmacy research at Purdue are (from left) Kara Duncan, adjunct assistant professor in nuclear pharmacy; second-year pharmacy student Lerin Becton of Chicago; and fourth-year pharmacy student Charlie Bockelman of Newburgh, Ind. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
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Purdue turns lemons into lemonade
for agricultural exporters

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – When the Indianapolis owner of Fry & Associates, a food technology company, first tried to sell margarine in the newly opened Eastern European markets several years ago, he learned an important lesson: What worked in the United States sat unsold on the shelves in Poland.

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"Quite frankly, they were used to making butter from milk that was slightly fermented, plus they strongly preferred butter and margarine with no salt," owner Dennis Fry says. "We changed our margarine to have a stronger flavor, and left out the salt, and it began to sell."

That's little surprise to Mike Boehlje, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, who says the way foods are prepared, presented and packaged can be more important than price when exporting to foreign markets.

"Some would argue that’s why the Danes can compete with the United States in selling meat to Europe and Asia," Boehlje says. "They have higher production costs than livestock producers in the United States, but they have been more willing to respond to niches, and to package and present their products in ways their specific customers prefer. In spite of the fact their product costs more, they continue to be fierce competitors with the U.S. livestock producers. They often beat us in export competition. Not because of cost, but because of features."

Reaching global markets is important for even small- and medium-sized businesses. However, a critical component in competing globally is being able to create foods that people in other countries care to eat.

"Most of the new product research and development activity has focused on developing foods for the United States and Western Europe, but these are relatively mature markets. Today, the growth opportunities are greater outside these regions – in areas such as Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe and Asia, Boehlje says.

Boehlje says these new growth markets provide opportunities for niche products that require smaller volume production. That could be a problem for some U.S. companies looking to expand into those areas.

To help get his company's chicken broth accepted in Taiwan, Fry worked with faculty in Purdue's Food Science Department for technical assistance and received advice on packaging, heat processing and production. Fry's company produced more than 7 million cans of the broth for export to Asia during the first year of production.

CONTACT: Mike Boehlje, (765) 494-4222;

Dennis Fry, of Fry & Associates, Indianapolis, Ind., holds a can of chicken broth packaged for sale in Taiwan. Fry worked with Purdue University's Department of Food Science to develop a product for an Asian market. Customizing products for regional tastes and preferences is important to successfully export agricultural products, experts say. (Purdue Agricultural Communication Photo by Tom Campbell.)
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Kiss and sell: Profs write economic 'Love Story'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Students in a Purdue University agricultural economics course are learning about dollars and cents in a language they understand: the language of love.

A textbook written by three Purdue professors borrows a page from dime store romance novels to teach basic economic principles. The book, "Life, Love and Economics," follows two college graduates and the economic decisions they make as they meet, marry, take jobs and raise children.

The nearly 300-page book is being used in entry-level macroeconomics classes.

The book tells the fictional story of Jason Cooley and Samantha Fletcher. Cooley, a graduate of "Bloomington University," meets Fletcher, an alumna of "West Lafayette University," while the two are in line at a frozen custard stand. They discover they've accepted positions at the same computer company, and their relationship blossoms from there.

Each chapter covers a different economic topic. In "The First Date: The Paycheck and Financial Planning Chapter," Jason learns about federal and state withholding taxes, Social Security and 401(k) plans. Chapter 9 – "Samantha Buys a House: The Real Estate Chapter" – takes the female lead through the rigors of realizing the American Dream. Other chapters deal with subjects such as financial planning, conservative vs. liberal economic philosophies, entrepreneurship and welfare.

One such scene has Jason and Samantha on a dinner date whispering sweet nothings ... about savings plans. Jason thinks to himself, "I know I should be bored, but Samantha sure is cute when she talks economics." Later in the book, Jason explains the investment value of the engagement ring he's about to give Samantha.

There are no steamy interludes. The closest the book comes to a love scene is in Chapter 13, when Samantha leads Jason upstairs. "Apparently things were successful, because nine months later, Jason and Samantha's first child was born, Jason Junior," the next sentence reads.

So far, students are devouring every paragraph of "Life, Love and Economics."

Robert W. Taylor, one of the book's authors and a professor of agricultural economics, says one student came to class upset after reading the chapter where Jason's wise Uncle Mitchell dies – a chapter on estate planning. "He'd been reading ahead," Taylor says.

Taylor's co-authors are Dee Cuttell and the late Gavin Sinclair. "Life, Love and Economics" is published by Pearson Custom Publishing of Boston.

CONTACT: Robert W. Taylor, (765) 494-4211;

Want tourists in your town? Brand it,
and they will come

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – While the advertising concept of branding generally applies to products, a Purdue University professor thinks regional branding is what communities need to succeed in making tourism a viable part of their local economies.

Liping A. Cai, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, defines tourism branding as "a process of building a unique destination image that evokes a specific set of travelers' thoughts, feelings and associations, which in turn add value to their visiting experience."

He says rural communities that decide to market themselves for tourism often think too small. "Sometimes even a county is too small," he says. "Visitors don't think about county boundaries. Regional branding of four to five counties is more effective if they have the same attractions."

Rural towns, according to Cai, need to evaluate the nature of their regions' attractions in terms of "destination mix," which has five components:

– Attractions, both natural and cultural.
– Infrastructure: highways, utilities, sewer.
– Facilities: hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfast establishments.
– Transportation, including taxis and buses.
– Hospitality training, which involves the whole community in knowing what the area's attractions are and how to present them in a positive manner.

"Hospitality training is very important but often ignored," Cai says. "Tourism marketing is a community effort, and having friendly, personable, knowledgeable people is very important. For example, a gas station attendant on the interstate who is trained and part of the system may recommend a restaurant or a local attraction to travelers. This can make all the difference."

Regional tourism planning should also select target markets, according to Cai. What attracts families may be very different from what attracts newlyweds, which, in turn, may be different from what retirees are looking for.

Then, there is globalization to consider. "The United States is the third most-visited country in the world, after Spain and France," Cai says. "Many times, repeat visitors to the United States, having seen New York, Chicago and San Francisco, want to see the 'real' America. When I first introduced the idea of Indiana tourism to my students, they laughed, but we often ignore what is in our back yards."

Cai's research also shows that using cooperative branding causes advertising costs to decrease markedly and return on advertising investment to increase significantly.

But Cai cautions that tourism is not for every American town seeking an alternative to low corn and soybean prices or the closing of factories and mines.

"Business people like tourists. Residents may not," Cai says. "Tourism is sometimes called a factory without chimneys, but that's not true. There are too many social and environmental issues inherent in a community's developing tourism. The question is how to make tourism sustainable over the long term. The answer is regionalize, plan and brand."

CONTACT: Liping A. Cai, (765) 494-4739,

New transistor could keep computer evolution online

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University engineers have new information contradicting the most dire predictions about the imminent demise of Moore's Law, which states the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles about every 18 months, translating into performance increases.

Because this doubling requires circuits to be made smaller and smaller, it is thought the limits of physics will soon make it impossible to continue at the same pace, or that it eventually will become too expensive to shrink circuits any more, hindering further progress. Some observers have predicted Moore's Law will hit a brick wall in about a decade.

However, a new simulation tool has shown that an innovative type of transistor could keep Moore's Law in force until 2025, or beyond. This would give scientists breathing room to develop entirely new technologies to replace integrated circuits made from silicon.

The simulation tested the performance of an experimental transistor, called a double-gate transistor, which carries twice the electrical current and could work more than twice as fast as conventional devices. Mark Lundstrom, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has demonstrated that double-gate transistors one-tenth the length of the best conventional transistors could perform as well as current devices. Critical components in the transistors, electrodes known as gates, are only 10 nanometers long, compared to 100 nanometers for conventional transistors.

The new simulation tool, called nanoMOS, evaluates transistor performance with a sophisticated technique earlier used to simulate electrical conduction in individual molecules. When applied to transistors, the same method predicts that a double-gate transistor can continue to perform well at gate lengths as short as 10 nanometers, and perhaps even shorter, Lundstrom said.

"That means, if we could learn how to manufacture a device like this, we could extend Moore's Law to the year 2025," he said. Researchers at Purdue, the University of California at Berkeley and the IBM Watson Research Center have already demonstrated working double-gate transistors.

Lundstrom said the simulation tool is now available to any researcher through an unusual system called the Purdue Nanotechnology Simulation Hub, or nanoHub.

There is no need to download the simulation software or learn new operating codes because the nanoHub uses a network-computing platform that automatically enables computer users to run programs with conventional Web browsers. They simply acquire an account and begin using the software.

Purdue researchers say they know of only two other teams in the world who have created similar "full quantum" simulation tools. But those tools were developed in the private sector and are not accessible to the research community at large.

"We want to accelerate progress in nanoelectronics by making this tool available to everyone," Lundstrom said.

The nanoHub can be accessed on the web.

CONTACTS: Mark Lundstrom, (765) 494-3515,; Supriyo Datta, (765) 494-3511,

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