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Regents president reports another conflict

Rastetter-backed TelePharm looks to work on UI project

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IOWA CITY — Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter has disclosed another potential conflict of interest. This one is related to his involvement with an Iowa City-based company that has developed software for remote identification of medications.

Rastetter is a shareholder in TelePharm LLC, which developed a low-cost way of equipping rural communities with pharmaceutical resources using cameras, monitors and a database of medication names and images that let pharmacists in one town approve prescriptions in another.

Roby Miller founded TelePharm in 2012. His family opened Iowa’s first telepharmacy later that year. Recently, Miller said, he has spoken with University of Iowa Health Care and UI Department of Pharmaceutical Care about taking part in a project aimed at finding ways for pharmacists to provide virtual verifications of medications at a remote facility.

Keokuk Area Hospital is participating in the research that could use TelePharm technology to allow its nurses to receive electronic verification from UI pharmacists during off hours — when its pharmacists are not available.

“We are seeing if we can help them create better documentation around that, using our telepharmacy platform,” Miller said. “We don’t typically do too much with the hospital side, so this is a new thing for us. We are testing the waters to see if our product applies.”

TelePharm would provide software and its expertise for the project free, but its potential ties to the university prompted Rastetter’s disclosure in November. Members of the Board of Regents must disclose any interests that might create an “actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest.”

Rastetter — who serves as CEO of Summit Group, which includes Summit Farms LLC — earlier this year reported almost a dozen possible conflicts, including his company’s involvement with the Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program administered through Iowa State University.

Summit Farms also is participating in a “rubber mat trial” with ISU extension services and, according to Rastetter’s disclosure forms, Summit Farms is investing in PigGene Sustainable Solutions LLC, which aims to “develop pigs to facilitate improved agricultural production efficiency.”

The organization gives money to the UI Foundation to support four scholarships annually, and Rastetter’s company participates in and sponsors other competitions and programs at ISU and UI.

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