Dima Mazen Qato, PharmD, MPH, PhD serves as the Hygeia Centennial Chair and Associate Professor (with tenure) in the Titus Family Department of Clinical Pharmacy. She has also been appointed as a Senior Fellow with the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.
Prior to joining USC, Dr. Qato was an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy (2012-2020). She also serves as a National Academy of Medicine Pharmacy Fellow for 2018-2020. Dr. Qato received her PharmD from UIC, an MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and a PhD in Public Health from the University of Illinois School of Public Health.
At the USC School of Pharmacy, she will develop and lead interdisciplinary research efforts focusing on drug utilization, access to medicines, and pharmaceutical policy both in the U.S. and globally to better understand why medications are used, or not used, and how they can and should be used in the population to promote equity, longevity and good health.
Dr. Qato’s research utilizes population-based methods to better understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the use, underuse and unsafe use of medications, how these patterns may influence health outcomes and health disparities, and what can be done from a community and policy perspective to address these growing public health problems. Dr. Qato’s goal is to promote public accountability to better ensure access to, and safe use of, medications at the national, state and local levels. In an effort to achieve this goal, Dr. Qato is interested in incorporating the concept of ‘essential medicines’ in payment and regulatory decision-making in ongoing health care reform.
Areas of Expertise (6)
Rising Star Research Award, University of Illinois at Chicago
National Academy of Medicine, Pharmacy Fellow
2018 - present
Drug Therapy Research Literature Award, American Society of Health System Pharmacists
James G Zimmer New Investigator Research Award, Honorable Mention, Aging & Public Health, American Public Health Association
U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, Department of State, (Country: Jordan)
2002 - 2003
University of Illinois College of Pharmacy: PharmD
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: MPH
University of Illinois School of Public Health: PhD, Public Health
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: BS, Biological Sciences
- Hygeia Centennial Chair and Associate Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology at USC, 2020 to present
- Senior Fellow with the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at USC, 2020 to present
- Director, Program on Medicines and Public Health at USC School of Pharmacy, 2020 to present
- Fellow, National Academy of Medicine, 2018 to present
- Member, ASHP Research Advisory Council, 2020 to present
- Member, JAPhA Editorial Board, 2020 to present
Selected Media Appearances (8)
Exploring the Importance of Pharmacies to Public Health
National Academies online
Pharmacies have been one of the few types of businesses allowed to stay open despite states’ closures of nonessential businesses to help contain COVID-19 — a fact that reflects the key role they play in supporting public health, explains Dima M. Qato, an associate professor at the University of Illinois’ College of Pharmacy and the current National Academy of Medicine Fellow in Pharmacy.
Independent Pharmacies Are Closing Down Across the U.S.
U.S. News & World Report online
"Independent pharmacies are often excluded from preferred pharmacy networks and 340B [drug pricing] contracts, which are both increasingly important aspects of the pharmacy market, so it is not surprising that independent stores are at greater risk for closure," said senior study author Dima Mazen Qato, an associate professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the UIC College of Pharmacy.
A Third of Children Use Alternative Medicines
New York Times online
The lead author, Dima M. Qato, an assistant professor and pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, cautioned that in healthy children, there’s no evidence that supplements have any benefits and some evidence of serious risks, so “there’s no reason for your child to be on these products.”
Common Drugs May Be Contributing to Depression
New York Times online
“It was both surprising and worrisome to see how many medications have depression or suicidal symptoms as a side effect, given the burden of depression and suicide rates in the country,” said Dima Mazen Qato, an assistant professor and pharmacist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who was the lead author of the paper, published Tuesday in JAMA.
Access to Pharmacies Increasingly Difficult on South, West Sides
Dima Qato, assistant professor in the department of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is part of a study evaluating pharmacy deserts in the country’s 30 largest cities. “Preliminary findings suggest that Chicago is one of the worst in terms of the gaps in access across communities based on their race and ethnic composition,” Qato said.
'Pharmacy deserts' a growing health concern in Chicago, experts, residents say
Chicago Tribune online
“A lot of public attention focuses on insurance, but that’s not enough,” said Dima Qato, an assistant professor in the department of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has studied pharmacy access for years. “Even if medications are affordable, if the pharmacy isn’t accessible, they're not accessible.”
The Dangers of ‘Polypharmacy,’ the Ever-Mounting Pile of Pills
New York Times online
“We’re not paying attention to the interactions and safety of multiple medications,” said Dima Qato, the lead author of the JAMA Internal Medicine article (Dr. Alexander was a co-author) and a pharmacist and epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This is a major public health problem.”
Many seniors using dangerous drug combinations
CBS News online
"This is a major public health problem," study author Dima Mazen Qato, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy, told CBS News.
Selected Articles (10)
Pharmacist-Prescribed And Over-The-Counter Hormonal Contraception In Los Angeles County Retail PharmaciesHealth Affairs
2020 Federal and state policies to increase access to birth control have included expanding access to preventive and emergency hormonal contraception at pharmacies for women and girls of all ages without a physician’s prescription. We conducted a “mystery shopper” telephone survey to quantify the impact of these policies in Los Angeles County, California.
Ensuring Access to Medications in the US During the COVID-19 PandemicJAMA
2020 The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. Given the origins of COVID-19 in China, there were initial concerns regarding medication shortages due to the reliance of the US on overseas manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Availability and Cost of Naloxone Nasal Spray at Pharmacies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2017JAMA
2019 What is the availability of naloxone at pharmacies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 3 years after the implementation of a statewide standing order in Pennsylvania allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription?
Association Between Pharmacy Closures and Adherence to Cardiovascular Medications Among Older US AdultsJAMA
2019 Among 3.1 million individuals in this national cohort study, older adults filling statins, β-blockers, or oral anticoagulants at pharmacies that closed experienced an immediate statistically and clinically significant decline in adherence during the first 3 months after closure compared with their counterparts. This difference persisted over 12 months and was greater among older adults living in neighborhoods with fewer pharmacies.
Prescription Medication Use Among Children and Adolescents in the United StatesPediatrics
2018 Information on the use of prescription medications among children and adolescents in the United States is lacking. We estimate the prevalence of prescription medication use, concurrent use, and potential major drug–drug interactions (DDIs) in this population.
Prevalence of Dietary Supplement Use in US Children and Adolescents, 2003-2014JAMA Pediatrics
2018 Dietary supplements are often implicated in preventable adverse drug events in children and adolescents, yet current data on their use in this population are lacking. We used nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to estimate the prevalence of dietary supplement use, including the use of both nutritional products and alternative medicines, among children and adolescents in the United States.
Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United StatesJAMA
2018 In this cross-sectional US population-based survey study conducted between 2005 and 2014, the estimated overall prevalence of US adults using medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was 37.2%. The adjusted percentage of adults with concurrent depression was higher among those using more concurrent medications (eg, estimated 15% for ≥3 medications).
Changes in Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication and Dietary Supplement Use Among Older Adults in the United States, 2005 vs 2011JAMA Internal Medicine
2016 To characterize changes in the prevalence of medication use, including concurrent use of prescription and over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements, and to quantify the frequency and types of potential major drug-drug interactions.
Drug–Alcohol Interactions in Older U.S. AdultsJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
2015 Regular drinkers were defined as respondents who consumed alcohol at least weekly. Medication use was defined as the use of a prescription or nonprescription medication or dietary supplement at least daily or weekly. Micromedex was used to determine drug interactions with alcohol and their corresponding severity.
‘Pharmacy Deserts’ Are Prevalent In Chicago’s Predominantly Minority Communities, Raising Medication Access ConcernsHealth Affairs
2014 Attempts to explain and address disparities in the use of prescription medications have focused almost exclusively on their affordability. However, the segregation of residential neighborhoods by race or ethnicity also may influence access to the pharmacies that, in turn, provide access to prescription medications within a community.