SOURCE: American Pharmacists Association

March 01, 2016 12:31 ET

APhA Develops Resource Center to Address Challenges With Opioids

New Platform Arms Pharmacists With Tools to Improve Prescription Drug Use; Stem Drug Abuse and Misuse

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 01, 2016) -  In its ongoing work to curb the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) announced today the launch of a Resource Center to serve as a one-stop shop for pharmacists interested in learning more about opioid use, abuse and misuse. The Resource Center will help educate pharmacists by identifying learning opportunities, highlighting clinical and patient resources, and identifying tools that are useful when working with patients who are prescribed opioids. 

"APhA is committed to combating the opioid crisis in America but acknowledges the importance of patients' legitimate access to opioids," said Jenna Ventresca, APhA Associate Director, Health Policy and site administrator for the Resource Center. "We do this through thought leadership on shaping public policy and by identifying tools to help foster the pharmacist-patient relationship."

In 2015, APhA pledged to launch the Resource Center as part of the Obama Administration's effort to curb the prescription drug and heroin crisis. To learn more about the White House initiative, read its Fact Sheet as well as Pharmacy Today's coverage, White House Announces Plan to Curb Prescription Drug Heroin Crisis.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates opioid dependence affects nearly 5 million Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2014, there were 47,000 drug overdose fatalities in the U.S. with almost 29,000 or 61% involving opioids. Although drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., APhA notes many patients have a legitimate need for these medications and use them appropriately.

"The Resource Center has been developed to provide a balanced approach to pain management," Ventresca said. "APhA is keenly aware that millions of patients have legitimate reasons to have access to controlled substances. The Resource Center helps empower pharmacists to take steps to minimize misuse and abuse."

Among the Center resources available to pharmacists include:

  • Training and webinars that educate viewers about abuse deterrent formulations, care of patients with addiction, and the role of pharmacy in opioid therapeutics. In fact, for interested pharmacists, continuing education credit is available for some of the trainings listed.
  • A compilation of guidelines and resources to help pharmacist improve their decision making process including information on clinical guidelines for the use of buprenorphine, warning signs related to prescribing and dispensing controlled substances, and medicines recommended for disposal by flushing.
  • Engagement opportunities where pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can connect with other health care professionals through conferences, mentoring programs, and special interest groups.
  • Interactive tools and recent publications that can be used regularly or referenced to help pharmacists treat patients using opioids. Among the tools visitors will find are a buprenorphine treatment physician locator, and a Medicare Part D opioid mapping tool.
  • Federal and state resources related to opioids such as the White House's Office of National Drug Policy strategy, pharmacist efforts to combat opioid abuse and misuse, and state prescription drug monitoring programs.
  • Visitors will also find a section with articles and research discussing trends in prescription drug abuse, effectiveness and risks of opioid treatment, abuse-deterrent formulations, buprenorphine and more.

The site will be updated periodically and as new resources become available. Comments, including suggestions for content, may be directed to Jenna Ventresca at jventresca@aphanet.org.

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit www.pharmacist.com

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