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  • naloxone sign at pharmacy

    Developing and enhancing training in the city and state regarding naloxone use for opioid overdose reversals is among the goals of The PREMIER Center.

  • pharmacist at computer

    Prescription monitoring programs, such as the online Texas PMP, gives prescribers and pharmacists access to a patient’s controlled substance prescription history.

  • cdc graphic on opioid prescribing

The Center's goals are aimed at training and educating practitioners and students across the health care continuum, with a focus on pharmacists and pharmacy students, on issues of prescription drug misuse, addiction, dependence, and pain management.

Pharmacist Continuing Education

The PREMIER Center will work with professional organizations and content experts to develop CE programs focused on prescription drug misuse issues and regulatory requirements. The Center offers robust educational programming that cover topics related to prescription drug misuse, opioid use disorder and other topics that meet the educational needs of pharmacists in all practice areas. Beginning in 2019, Texas pharmacists will be required to participate in continuing education related to pain management and prescribing and monitoring of prescription controlled substances.

Current Offerings:

"It’s Benzo Long Time Coming: Evaluating the Risks of Benzodiazepine Use" (UAN: 0156-9999-21-045-H08-P; Credit Hours: 1.0/0.1 CEUs), expires April 23, 2024, Presenter: Austin De La Cruz, Pharm.D., BCPP, Clinical Assistant Professor, UHCOP

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"Opioids and Cardiovascular Disease" (UAN: 0156-9999-21-044-H08-P; Credit Hours: 1.0/0.1 CEUs), expires April 23, 2024, Presenter: Elisabeth M. Sulaica, Pharm.D., BCCP, Clinical Assistant Professor, UHCOP

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"Medication Assisted Treatment" (UAN: 0156-9999-20-232-H08-P; Credit Hours: 1.0/0.1 CEUs), expires Sept. 1, 2023, Presenter: Austin De La Cruz, Pharm.D., BCPP, Clinical Assistant Professor, UHCOP

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"Prescribing and Monitoring of Controlled Substance Prescriptions Using Prescription Monitoring Programs" (UAN: 0156-9999-20-263-H08-P; Credit Hours: 1.0/0.1 CEUs), expires Oct. 15, 2023. Presenter: Vaishnavi Tata, Graduate Student, UHCOP

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"A Call to Counsel: Developing the skillset to effectively counsel patients on their opioid prescriptions" (UAN: 0156-9999-19-198-H01-P; Credit Hours: 1.0/0.1 CEUs), Aug. 20, 2022, Presenters: Austin De La Cruz, PharmD, BCCP, Clinical Assistant Professor, UHCOP, and Matthew Wanat, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP, FCCM, Clinical Associate Professor

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Student Training and Research

Although issues such as misuse, diversion and other aspects of controlled substance prescriptions have been part of the college's Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) curriculum for decades, the "pharmacy academy" has made student education on these and emerging issues a national priority. In June 2016, UH College of Pharmacy announced its commitment to a new initiative led by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) to prioritize student education on misuse prevention.

An example of the college's commitment is by providing travel awards for students to attend the American Pharmacists Association Institute on Alcoholism & Drug Dependencies, an annual multiday program of workshops, panel discussions and other activities in Utah for students to better understand issues of addiction/dependencies, learn tools and strategies for recovery, and develop programs for implementation on campuses. Funding for future student attendance will be provided through The PREMIER Center.

In addition, students in the college's Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy Concentration of the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree program and the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program will be actively engaged in research projects undertaken by center member faculty investigators.

Professional Resource

Center researchers serve as a valuable resource for practitioners, policymakers, educators and other stakeholders on issues related to controlled substance prescription misuse and prevention. Among their upcoming or most recent presentations:

  • June 2021, Matthew Wanat (Chair and Moderator): "Increasing the Safety and Quality of Opioid Prescribing," 2021 Academy Health Annual Research Meeting (virtual)
  • September 2020, Matthew Wanat: "Multimodal pain management in the intensive care unit: a debate" Society of Critical Care Medicine Texas Chapter 9th Annual Symposium
  • July 2020, Matthew Wanat (roundtable facilitator): "Discussion of Didactic, Co-curricular, and Other Novel Activities to Prepare Students to Have a Positive Impact on Patients with Opioid Use Disorder," AACP Virtual Pharmacy Education 2020 
  • July 2020, Douglas Thornton and Matthew Wanat: "Evaluation of a Substance Use Disorder Educational Event for Doctor of Pharmacy Students," AACP Virtual Pharmacy Education 2020
  • July 2020, Douglas Thornton and Vaishnavi Tata (Ph.D. candidate): "Untangling the Web of Clinical Decision Making Using PDMPs: A Vignette-Based Learning Experience," AACP Virtual Pharmacy Education 2020
  • April 2020, Tyler Varisco (Ph.D. candidate): "Searching for an Answer: Identifying Disparities by Analyzing Linked PDMP Query and Fill Data," 2020 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit (virtual)
  • April 2019, Douglas Thornton: "Establishing the Community Pharmacist’s Role in Prescription Opioid Misuse Prevention," 2019 National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, Atlanta, GA
  • January 2019, Douglas Thornton: "Opioid Misuse in Texas," Opioid Prescription Drug Abuse Seminar, Beaumont, TX
  • July 2018, Douglas Thornton: "Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Impact on the Medical Communities in Texas," Houston Opioid Summit, Council on Recovery, Houston, TX

Media Coverage

Center researchers also serve as a resource for news and other media outlets to provide insights into various aspects of opioid and prescription drug misuse, treatments, policies and practices. Recent external media coverage includes: 

Institutional Collaboration

Furthermore, the center will be a key driver of collaborative research with other institutions in the Texas Medical Center, Greater Houston Area, and the State of Texas through the collaborations with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

One example of The PREMIER Center's institutional collaboration is its co-sponsorship of the Houston Medication Safety Symposium with UH College of Pharmacy's PHOP department and UTHealth McGovern School of Medicine.

Past symposia have featured nationally recognized speakers, poster/podium presentations, and professional networking opportunities to develop solutions and share information among attending health outcomes and public health researchers, physicians and other prescribers, pharmacists and other health professionals.