Meet the Pharmacist: ‘Our priority is patient safety’

Ilana Shutov-Frishman tells us about the joys of Pharmacovigilance and ice skating with an Olympic champion.

My grandmother was a physician who completed her MD degree during World War II.
She made the impossible possible, and that inspired me to study pharmacy.

One of the greatest days in my early life was when I passed my SAT exam with 30 points above the grade needed for pharmacy school. I studied at home really hard - I needed 650 points to gain entry and got 680.

I lived in St Petersburg until I was 9 years old.
It is really one of the most beautiful cities in the world - and I have visited a lot of cities in Europe and America! I can still speak and read Russian. I also speak Hebrew, English, a little Spanish and Arabic.

In the Pharmacovigilance team our priority is patient safety.
Pharmacovigilance is involved in the drug lifecycle from clinical trials all the way through post-marketing. I lead a team of nine scientists and physicians. We use our clinical knowledge on a daily basis in order to assess whether an adverse event is actually related to a drug or if it’s just coincidence. We always keep in mind that patients may be concerned about the product warnings even when taking medicines that can really benefit them. We weigh the evidence and use our combined medical and pharmaceutical knowledge and experience to make our decisions. The team discussions are great!

Usually I look on the positive side of things. I am an optimist rather than a pessimist. But slow computers and slow technology slow me down.

I learned to ice skate alongside Alexei Yagudin who became the Olympic Champion in 2002.
When I was eight and he was nine, we had the same coach - Alexander Majorov - Alexei was already the best figure skater there. My father and the coach asked Alexei to help me with some of my jumps and he really helped me. I still enjoy figure skating whenever I get a chance.

In Russia we always had a map of Israel on our wall.
Growing up Jewish in St Petersburg was challenging. When my father met my mother they wanted to move to Israel. But they couldn’t leave because of the ‘Iron Gate,’ there was no freedom of movement. In 1987 emigration was allowed and my family immediately applied to move. We were finally granted permission in 1990.

Doing National Service for 2 years was one of my best experiences growing up.
I went into the navy at 18 just after I graduated high school. I was based along the Israeli border in Eilat. I really enjoyed my time in the navy, made some great friendships, and the work felt important as we were keeping people safe.

In my spare time I love to draw and paint.
My grandfather was a painter. He lost his right hand during the Second World War, so he taught himself to paint with his left hand. That inspired me to start painting at a certain point of my life. I learned that mixing colors to discover new ones is really inspiring and calming.

Spring is my favorite time of year.
I was born on March 21, the first day of spring. I love how everything blooms and the desert wears green in Israel around this time of year.

The hardest thing about being a parent is to set boundaries.
It’s hard especially as I love my children so much. I try to teach them to have a healthy diet but they love the sweets, especially ice cream.

Ilana Shutov-Frishman lives in Givataim, a city near Tel Aviv. She works at Teva’s R&D site in Israel where she is the team leader for the Medical Scientific Unit, Global Patient Safety & Pharmacovigilance.

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