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Curbing Opioid Abuse

UHCOP Joins National Campaign to Enhance Education of Students, Practitioners in Life-saving Overdose Interventions, Counseling

UH College of Pharmacy is among more than 90 colleges and schools of pharmacy across the U.S. to commit to enhancing the education and training of students and practitioners to reverse the nationwide epidemic of opioid abuse and dependence. 

The new initiative is being spearheaded by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy of which UHCOP is a member. The AACP-led effort has been praised by Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Michael Botticelli, who has stressed the important role pharmacy faculty play in reducing this critical public health threat by educating and training student pharmacists about life-saving overdose interventions, including how to counsel patients and their loved ones on appropriate use of these life-saving medications.

"AACP member institutions educate all their student pharmacists to counsel patients about important public health issues including opioid abuse and heroin use," said AACP Executive Vice President and CEO Lucinda L. Maine, Ph.D., R.Ph., said in a statement released June 2. "By restating their commitment, 94 colleges and schools of pharmacy publicly join President Obama and ONDCP Director Botticelli in fighting the increasing public health threat of opioid abuse and heroin use."

UHCOP Dean F. Lamar Pritchard, Ph.D., R.Ph., said as medication experts, pharmacists are in a unique position to help combat drug abuse and addiction.

"As part of UH College of Pharmacy's educational and service missions, we are wholeheartedly behind the effort to not only bring these issues to the forefront of the national conversation, but also to expand and implement programs to better prepare our students in fulfilling their duty in improving health in our communities," Pritchard said. "Whether it's including drug dependency scenarios in our patient counseling simulation exercises or training them on the use of overdose-intervention medications, UH College of Pharmacy will continue to explore opportunities to give students and practitioners the tools and knowledge to help reverse this disturbing trend of addiction and substance abuse." 

UHCOP faculty member Marc L. Fleming, Ph.D., MPH, R.Ph., is actively engaged in research projects related to opioid use, prescribing practices and pharmacists' use of the state-run Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, an electronic database for logging and tracking prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances in Texas (most other states have similar systems, but specific regulations on use and specific data vary).

In addition, a student-faculty contingent from the college recently returned from participating in the American Pharmacists Association Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependences in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they gained new insights into addiction and how pharmacists can play an active role in breaking the cycle of addiction. Read more here.