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HTH Briefs | March 28, 2013

UH-HIlo pharmacists cool for school

University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy program graduates are helping increase their school’s standing among competing pharmacy colleges across the nation.

On their first attempts at the standardized North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, almost 93 percent of graduates of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy passed the test in 2012. That represents an improvement from the first-time passing rate of just over 80 percent put up by students in 2011, the year the first class graduated from the school, which opened its doors in August 2007.

“We were obviously happy to see that it improved,” said College of Pharmacy Dean John Pezzuto of the passing rate.

The most recent testscores, which were posted Friday on the website of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which administers the exam, place Hilo in 94th place out of 109 colleges of pharmacy across the country. The average passing rate across the country was 96.76 percent.

In 2011, Hilo students’ first-time passing rate on the exam exceeded that of students at only one other school — Lebanese American University.

The exam is used to help individual state boards of pharmacy assess a candidate’s knowledge of the practice of pharmacy, according to the board’s website. Pharmacy students at UH-Hilo are also required to take an examination in pharmacy law before they can be licensed.

Ruderman looks to stop fracking in its tracks

A Big Island state senator is trying to stop geothermal fracking in Hawaii before it starts.

The Senate’s Energy and Environment Committee will today discuss a resolution that would, if adopted, place the Senate in official opposition to all forms of fracking, including what is known as as enhanced geothermal.

That practice, the only applicable use of fracking in Hawaii since the islands lack natural gas and oil, involves using water and sand to widen cracks in rocks deep underground in order to access heat sources that would otherwise be out of reach.

While geothermal fracking has yet to be proposed on the islands, Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna, who introduced the resolution, said he is concerned that it may not be too far away.

“If I were a geothermal developer, I think it would be useful to know which technology is welcomed and which would be frowned upon,” he said.

Ruderman said he has environmental concerns with fracking, including the use of chemicals to separate rock. He said they may get into water aquifers.

Don Thomas, a University of Hawaii at Manoa geochemistry professor, said he hasn’t heard of any material other than water and sand being used for enhanced geothermal, but he couldn’t say with certainty that the same chemicals used for gas and oil fracking couldn’t be used here.

“I don’t know why they would need that,” he added.