Opioid Epidemic

The prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is raging across the United States. On July 22, President Barack Obama signed sweeping legislation aimed at tackling the nation’s opioid addiction crisis. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) provides a framework for opioid abuse prevention and treatment and includes provisions that highlight pharmacists’ role in curbing the epidemic.

Overdose deaths kill more people than car accidents in West Virginia, according to Charles Babcock, Pharm D, and assistant clinical professor at Marshall University School of Pharmacy. West Virginia has one of the highest opioid overdose rates in the country. Babcock is part of a robust harm reduction program. Babcock is perhaps best known for his naloxone training courses that spun out of the harm reduction program. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids and saves lives. West Virginia allows pharmacist prescribing for naloxone that can save lives. Many other states also have prescriptive authority for naloxone. Minnesota pharmacists were denied prescriptive authority for naloxone in recent legislation in what appeared to be a turf battle with physicians over prescribing authority. It’s time Minnesota reclaimed it’s progressive status and joined 17 other states and the District of Columbia with statewide naloxone protocol or prescriptive authority for pharmacists.

Paul Trumm, Pharmacist