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Pharmacy Colleagues Remember Robert Lantos, ASHP's 30th President

Kate Traynor Senior Writer, ASHP News Center Published: April 25, 2024

ASHP was made aware this year of the death of Robert Lantos, who served as the organization's president in 1973-1974. At the time of his death on September 23, 2021, Lantos was 91 years old.

Robert Lantos
Robert Lantos

During his extensive career, Lantos led hospital pharmacy departments in Texas, Florida, and Massachusetts. He began his pharmacy education at the University of Michigan, earning a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy in 1952 and a master’s degree in hospital pharmacy in 1954. He joined ASHP that year and was soon participating in and leading critical ASHP committees.

In 1958, Lantos chaired the ASHP Committee on Minimum Standards, which helped shape hospital pharmacy practice and prepare the profession for the future.

“Bob Lantos was a leader who helped build the foundation for contemporary pharmacy practice in hospitals and health systems,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz. “ASHP was just 12 years old when he joined. At that time, the organization was working to position pharmacists as essential members of the patient care team and was creating standards for safety and quality throughout the entire medication-use process. Bob was a major contributor to those efforts, and pharmacists and patients everywhere have benefited from his vision and leadership.”

Michael McKenzie had just entered a master’s degree program at the University of Florida (UF) College of Pharmacy in 1970 when he first met Lantos, who was then director of pharmacy at the UF Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville.

McKenzie, professor emeritus and past senior associate dean for professional affairs at the UF College of Pharmacy, recalled Lantos as cordial, business-focused, and enthusiastic about hospital pharmacy. As chief pharmacist at Shands, Lantos was also a key figure in collaborations between the hospital and the college to advance clinical pharmacy.

“At that time, the Department of Pharmacy Services did not have the budget to place pharmacists on multiple medical services,” McKenzie noted. By involving graduate students and pharmacy practice faculty in new initiatives at the hospital, the pharmacy department was able to provide clinically focused services on the medical floors. More broadly, McKenzie said, the college and hospital supported a pharmacy residency program, unit-dose drug distribution system, drug information center, and IV admixture services.

“Mr. Lantos was an essential part of this process,” McKenzie emphasized.

Robert Lester Lantos was born June 8, 1930, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to Joseph Lantos and Theresa (Freud) Lantos. His parents, who worked as pharmacists after emigrating from Eastern Europe, went on to own and operate a local family pharmacy.

Lantos began his professional career as a staff pharmacist and lecturer at the Jefferson Medical College Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1955, he relocated to Galveston, Texas, to serve as pharmacy chief at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). Under Lantos’s leadership, UTMB published its first drug formulary, established a drug manufacturing laboratory, and launched a pharmacy internship program.

Lantos returned to Pennsylvania in 1960 to help establish his parents’ new community pharmacy in Johnstown. In 1963, he accepted an appointment as pharmacy director at Breckenridge Hospital in Austin, Texas. He moved to Florida in 1966 to serve as pharmacy director at the UF Shands Teaching Hospital. He led the department at the time the UF College of Pharmacy was implementing and expanding clinical pharmacy education for its students.

UF College of Pharmacy graduate and Professor Emeritus Paul L. Doering recalled Lantos as a quiet but determined leader and a visionary pioneer in the development of advanced roles for pharmacists.

In 1975, Lantos was appointed director of pharmacy for Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, MA, and professor of hospital pharmacy at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. Lantos capped his career at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (LIU Pharmacy) in Brooklyn, NY, where he served as associate dean for continuing professional education and external programs until his retirement in 2008.

Bernard Glezerman, chief operating officer at Enexia Specialty Pharmacy, was a 19-year-old student pharmacist when he interned for Lantos at LIU Pharmacy.

“I had no idea the profound impact he would have on me,” Glezerman said. “Bob instilled in me invaluable lessons beyond the realm of pharmacy. He taught me the importance of organization, responsibility, and so much more. His wealth of knowledge and wisdom was unparalleled, and I am forever grateful for the guidance he provided.”

In addition to praising his leadership, Lantos’s colleagues shared fond recollections about their interactions with him. UF’s McKenzie said Lantos, who was president of the Florida Society of Hospital Pharmacists at the time (1971–1972), volunteered to drive a group of graduate students and pharmacy residents to the society’s annual meeting in Daytona Beach.

“He was busy as president at this meeting, but he took time to include us at this convention as part of our pharmacy graduate education,” McKenzie said.

Charles M. King Jr., who served with Lantos on the ASHP Board of Directors, recollected that Lantos had an interesting personal talent.

“He had an uncanny ability to listen to someone for two minutes and tell them where they were from,” said King, who also praised Lantos’s commitment to hospital pharmacy.

An obituary published at the time of his death recalled Lantos as an avid sports enthusiast and much-loved friend, husband, parent, and grandparent. His survivors included his wife, Sandi; sons Jim and Steve; and grandchildren Joey and Danielle.

Posted April 25, 2024

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