Opioid abuse is a serious public health problem that has reached crisis levels across the United States, with more than 90 Americans dying each day from overdose of opioids, and many more becoming addicted. Recognizing the urgency and impact of this issue on the health of millions of patients across the country, a coalition that includes the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) issued a public statement today seeking support from the current Administration to address this growing epidemic.
The coalition, known as the National Conference of Pharmaceutical Organizations (NCPO), is a group of organizations and associations that collectively represent more than 300,000 pharmacy practitioners and pharmaceutical scientists, companies engaged in healthcare delivery, as well as pharmacy regulators and educators.
“APhA, along with the other NCPO members, is individually and jointly committed to combatting this public health crisisas we implement best practices across the country, “ said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan. “We believe such collaborative efforts are essential to meeting our country’s needs for high quality health care while working together to reduce the impact of this crisis on American families.”
APhA actively promotes the inclusion of pharmacists as a necessary resource to consumers and a member of the health care team working to curb the prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic.
APhA has long advocated for the important role of the pharmacist in providing a variety of patient care services for patients taking opioid medications, such as utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs, identifying red flag warning signs, providing patients naloxone, and working on care teams to both prevent and treat substance use disorder. Pharmacist involvement in substance use disorders helps improve access to patients in need while optimizing outcomes and reducing the risks of addiction or relapse. The association supports legislative, regulatory, and private sector efforts to address our Nation’s opioid epidemic as long as those efforts are appropriately balanced with the legitimate needs of the millions of patients living with pain.
APhA created an online opioid resource center to arm pharmacists with tools to improve pain management, while stemming opioid abuse and misuse.
Separately, the APhA Pain Institute, an intense lecture and debate series at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, is designed to keep pharmacists up-to-date on the latest in the world of opioid management and substance use disorders. This full day of engaging, original content from the profession’s leading experts prepares pharmacists to be able to recognize the psychology behind pain medication abuse, identify patients who misuse opioids and those with addiction, and manage both addiction and chronic pain.
“Pharmacists are and always have been on the frontlines of the opioid crisis, and will be a part of the many solutions to the problem,” said Menighan. “We work actively with patients and their communities on a daily basis, and APhA’s priority is to make sure that policy makers and our fellow health care providers know what pharmacists can do to make meaningful progress in the fight against opioids.”