Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist September 2015 Contents And like the rest of us, they need their
medications but on such occasions the
local pharmacy is somewhat out of reach.
enter Tina Bayuse, the lead pharmacist at
the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Texas
who leads a small team of pharmacists
whose job it is to ensure that the space
craft are equipped with just about any
medication that might be needed to
meet the astronauts’ medical needs or
deal with any injuries. The team also
has a more down-to-earth function –
dispensing to on-the-ground astronauts
and JSC staff.
‘I had wanted to be an astronaut for as
long as I can remember,’ Dr Bayuse told
Australian Pharmacist in an interview
‘I always loved space and as a kid
I wanted to be an astronaut but I
realised that wasn’t going to be in
the cards for me. I decided to become
a pharmacist and while I was at
pharmacy school I attended a lecture
about the pharmacokinetics and
pharmacodynamics of space flight.
‘I introduced myself to the lecturer
and after expressing my interest she
connected me with the right people at
NASA. It took a few years to make it work
and it wasn’t until I was a fourth-year
pharmacy student that I was able to
organise a rotation [intership] here in
Houston at the pharmacology lab.’
Dr Bayuse was the first pharmacist in the
position and was involved in research,
but admits her passions lay elsewhere.
‘Research really wasn’t my special area
of interest but it me gave the chance
to see what was here and that was
an opportunity too good to pass up,’
‘After my four weeks were up it
was discussed that a position for a
pharmacist was needed in the lab but it
took a year to get organised before I was
offered the job.
‘So I started in the pharmacology lab
and it was a big move. I only knew the
few people I had met on rotation in
Houston and had no family, so it was a
leap of faith to come here.
‘But after talks with colleagues and
preceptors I decided to give it a try
for a year. That was 15 years ago and
I’m still here – and still loving it. It was
absolutely the right decision.’
Dr Bayuse said her pharmacy knowledge
and expertise was something NASA
realised they needed.
‘Around 2001, NASA headquarters
decided to do a review of its clinics and
the job I have now came out of those
discussions,’ she explained
‘As a result I started splitting my time
between the lab and the flight medicine
clinic with the intent of setting up
a pharmacy here for the Johnson
‘Consequently in 2003 we opened the
first and only NASA pharmacy and
at the time we were supporting the
flight medicine clinic which provided
primary care for the astronauts and
their dependents as well as the pilot
personnel who aren’t astronauts.
‘We looked after the
occupational health needs
for all the other personnel.
We weren’t doing anything
with space flight except
and also selected
for their physical
fitness, but medical
contingencies still need
to be planned for.
Dr Tina Bayuse said the
medical kits taken into space
were very specialised.
‘ The basic medical kit we stock
for on orbit flights contain the
things people would normally
stock for themselves on a long trip –
convenient-type medications,’ she said.
‘What is different from when a normal
person travels would be life-saving
medications like advanced cardiac life
‘ The med kits have things like antibiotics and
topical preparations – the astronauts aren’t
walking but using their hands and flying around the
stations. So the med kits have items that are different
from what you would expect for a terrestrial-based kit
for people doing similar work.
‘And of course they don’t have the ability to go out to a
pharmacy so we have to plan ahead.
‘ The contents of the kit also have medicines to help mitigate
some of the adaptation syndromes they have such as motion
sickness and head shift [where more fluids that usual concentrate
in the head and face.
‘ They are pretty specialised for their particular applications.’
Australian Pharmacist September 2015 i ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
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