When Margie McGlynn '82 was choosing which pharmacy school to attend, her father offered her some practical incentives to remain in Buffalo, where he had run an independent pharmacy for over 20 years.
“I chose UB because it was one of the top pharmacy schools,” McGlynn acknowledged, then added, “But I also chose it because my father offered to let me complete my internship hours at his store. And he offered to help me buy me a car.”
Initially, McGlynn expected to follow in her father’s footsteps post-graduation, becoming a traditional behind-the-counter pharmacist. She had apprenticed in his South Buffalo pharmacy, doing everything from delivering prescriptions to housebound customers to shoveling snow from the entrance and sidewalks.
After completing a pharmacy degree and an MBA, McGlynn could have stayed on track to one day take over the family business. But an internship at Merck widened her worldview considerably.
She accepted a job with the pharmaceutical giant, knowing it was “not a typical career path for a pharmacy graduate.
“I got involved in developing and marketing many important medicines and vaccines, and used my pharmaceutical knowledge to determine what the unmet medical needs were and which products would be of greatest value to patients,” she said.
McGlynn worked to broaden Merck’s access programs for low-income patients, both in the United States and abroad. Her priorities included making much-needed medications more accessible to patients, “regardless of a person’s income level or whether they have prescription drug coverage.”
She also used her management skills to establish programs that teach patients correct use of medications.
And she helped Merck establish a “no-profit pricing policy” and distribution programs to sell medications at drastically reduced cost to countries with low incomes and/or high prevalence rates for HIV/AIDS. The company also provides vaccines for diseases such as rotovirus, which causes 500,000 infant deaths a year, at no profit to such countries through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
Merck also designated three million free doses of the vaccine Gardasil, which can prevent cervical cancer, to women in these countries, many of whom don’t have access to screening.
McGlynn, who rose rapidly at Merck during her 26-year career, took another atypical path for a pharmacy professional: she retired at a relatively young age.
“I decided to retire after 26 years because I felt I had made many important contributions to Merck and because I had other directions I wanted to take in my professional life,” she said.
One of her new directions was based on a loss from long ago. She created a foundation dedicated to supporting research on Homocystinuria, a rare genetic disorder that affects just one in 200,000 people. McGlynn lost two sisters to the disorder when they were young.
“I was 12 and between them in age. They were 11 and 14 when they passed away,” she said.
The loss helped motivate her career choice and now drives her to support research on the disorder, for which there is not yet a cure.
In its first year, McGlynn’s foundation has issued two grants to research designed to combat the disorder: one to develop enzyme replacement therapy and the other to develop small molecule therapy. She also is working with others to help set up a patient advocacy group to support affected families.
McGlynn, who also has supported her alma mater for many years, committed $50,000 to the Pharmacy Building. Her naming gift will fund the Hempling McGlynn Family Patient Assessment and Counseling Room in the new facility as a tribute to her late father and to the three generations of Hemplings who have trained at the school. Margie’s niece, Katie Hempling, is a second-year student in the joint PharmD/MBA program.
“The new building will be a great benefit to the school and the students,” McGlynn said. “I chose to support a patient assessment room because my father was very focused on educating his customers, helping them understand their medications. I am giving to honor what my father was very passionate about. I also wanted to support further the school’s efforts to teach students how to counsel their future patients.”
Additionally, McGlynn established and continues to give to the Edward J. Hempling Community Pharmacy Education Fund, which supports student participation in health fairs, where they conduct screenings and provide education on medications.
“I’ve been a UB supporter because I am a strong believer in the pharmacy school and the education it provides. I want to give back and enable others to have the same opportunities that I had,” she said.