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ASHP Past President Herbert L. Flack Dies at 84

Kate Traynor

Former ASHP president and charter member Herbert L. Flack, 84, died suddenly January 9 at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.

A pioneer of modern health-system pharmacy practice, Flack was an early proponent of using the pharmacy, instead of clinical or nursing services, to prepare total parenteral nutrient (TPN), i.v., and irrigating solutions for patient care. Former ASHP President Steven L. Sheaffer said that Flack's work with and support of pharmacy-based TPN preparation were instrumental in promoting the value of the therapy throughout the medical and pharmacy world.

Flack in 1961 published the first procedural manual for the preparation of sterile injectables for hospital pharmacists and separate recommendations for setting up a sterile products laboratory—accomplishments that helped bring laminar-airflow technology to the nation's hospitals.

Flack is also remembered as an influential teacher who served as official preceptor for 47 pharmacy residents and an informal mentor to many others. Sheaffer said that Flack's interactions with pharmacy students led to the creation of "a whole new generation of leaders that followed him."

"He was a super person," Sheaffer said of Flack.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Pittman, New Jersey, Flack, the son of a pharmacist, worked during his youth in community pharmacies in both cities. Flack received a bachelor's degree in 1942 from his father's alma mater, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCPS), and a master of science degree in 1947. The college, which in 1998 was renamed the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, awarded Flack an honorary doctorate in 1992.

Flack joined the fledgling American Society of Hospital Pharmacists in 1942 and played an active role in the Society for many years, serving as president in 1949–1950.

"He was proud of being a charter member of ASHP," recalled Flack's son, James H. Flack, a PCPS graduate and staff pharmacist at the Providence Portland Medical Center in Oregon.

Flack was deeply involved in the creation of ASHP's pharmacy practice residency accreditation program and the inception of the residency in hospital pharmacy. His interest in pharmacy education led in 1955 to the publishing of the profession's first "Syllabus for a Course in Hospital Pharmacy," a project Flack undertook while chairing the ASHP Committee on Education.

From 1946 to 1964, Flack served as director of pharmacy service at Philadelphia's Jefferson Medical College Hospital—now the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. He was appointed director of pharmacy at the Hospital of the University of Philadelphia in 1964. Throughout his professional career, until his retirement in 1986, Flack retained an appointment as professor of clinical pharmacy at PCPS.

In addition to serving ASHP, Flack was active in the Pennsylvania Society of Hospital Pharmacists, which named him pharmacist of the year in 1977 and conferred other honors, including the creation in 1986 of the Herbert L. Flack Award for academic achievement at PCPS.

Flack was the 1961 recipient of the Harvey A. K. Whitney Lecture Award, hospital pharmacy's highest honor.

Along with his son, James, Flack is survived by a daughter, Helen E. Johnson of Aurora, Colorado. PCPS graduate Jeffrey C. Shull of West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of Flack's five surviving stepsons, is a community pharmacist in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Flack is also survived by a brother and sister, four grandchildren, 18 step-grandchildren, and one step-great grandchild.