Jim Lowy, a 1989 Duke graduate, used the communication skills he honed at The Chronicle to start up and run a highly successful electronic medical reference publishing company. The same skills have served him well in his subsequent career as an attorney.
Lowy, who worked as a columnist and served on The Chronicle’s editorial board during his undergraduate years, enrolled in the University of Florida’s law school after graduating from Duke. The idea for what would become a multi-million-dollar business was born during a conversation with Jon Seymour, a fellow Duke alum and UF medical student, about the cumbersome nature of the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a 2,000-page manual explaining the characteristics and regulation of various medications. Doctors at the time did not have a straightforward method to assess the impact of multiple drugs on a patient.
“We can write drug information software that is interactive,” Lowy recalls thinking at the time. “Why don’t we start a company to make and publish such a product?”
Seymour and Lowy began developing a software program to compile drug data and provide information for unique patient profiles. Seymour left his medical residency to work on the software architecture, and Gold Standard, the new venture, started in an apartment near the UF medical school.
In subsequent years, Gold Standard developed into a full-fledged pharmaceutical application and database that helped clinicians tailor medication to patients and pharmacies minimize waste and abuse. Walgreens initially bought 3,000 site licenses for Clinical Pharmacology, the flagship product. The program is now used at every Walgreens, CVS and Hospital Corporation of America facility in the United States.
“We thought we were developing a product for doctors, but our product really caught on in the pharmacy world,” Lowy noted. “Doctors get so much stuff for free. Pharmacists didn’t get information for free.”
Gold Standard led to spinoff applications related to pharmacoeconomics, the study of the value of certain drug therapies compared to others.
Seymour and Lowy eventually sold Gold Standard to Dutch publisher Reed-Elsevier in 2006. The formerly privately-held company’s exact sales numbers are confidential, but it is safe to say that by 2006, Gold Standard’s sales were between $20 million and $30 million annually.
Lowy, who now works as a litigator in Tampa, Fla., joined The Chronicle as a freshman reporter and also began writing a column as a sophomore. He became editor of R&R, the weekly arts and entertainment section, his junior year and served on the editorial board. As a senior, he was a columnist and editorial board member.
Lowy credits his involvement in The Chronicle with enhancing his concise writing style and attention to detail, skills that have played an important part in his work as a publisher and an attorney.
“I would give credit to The Chronicle as much as any English class,” Lowy said. “If I send a legal brief to a state or federal judge, it better be flawless. Anything that enhances one’s writing ability is valuable.”
This story was reported by Yeswanth Kandimalla, the student employee of the Office of External Relations. Yeswanth was elected in February to become the editor of the 108th volume of The Chronicle.