Campus News

Pharmacy school leads training effort to combat opioid crisis

By MARCENE ROBINSON

Published December 8, 2017

“This program alone is not going to solve the opioid crisis. It is one part of a widespread effort to improve the management of patients in pain and patients on opioids.”
Edward M. Bednarczyk, clinical associate professor
Department of Pharmacy Practice

Nearly 40 percent of licensed prescribers in New York State — more than 38,000 prescribers — successfully completed the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ Opioid Prescriber Training Program.

The program was a collaboration between the pharmacy school’s Office of Continuing Pharmacy Education, faculty from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

All New York State prescribers were required to complete the state-mandated training by July 1. While multiple training programs were available, the pharmacy school’s initiative provided training to more than a third of licensed prescribers in New York State, including 4,000 prescribers in Erie County.

The online, interprofessional accredited program provided instruction to physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurse practitioners and other prescribers. Areas of instruction included pain management, legal requirements, palliative care and addiction.

The ongoing training, provided at no cost to prescribers, is supported by funding from NYSDOH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Program data will be used to support a future study on prescribing habits.

The effort builds on several pharmacy school initiatives to curb the nation’s opioid epidemic.

Prescription opioid abuse is so rampant that one in four people who receive them long-term for noncancerous pain struggle with addiction. Each day, 140 deaths in the U.S. occur due to opioid overdoses, the CDC reports.

“This program alone is not going to solve the opioid crisis,” says Edward M. Bednarczyk, clinical associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “It is one part of a widespread effort to improve the management of patients in pain and patients on opioids.”

Other partnerships between NYSDOH and the pharmacy school through the Center for Health Outcomes, Pharmacoinformatics and Epidemiology (cHOPE) include a Medicaid Prescriber Education Program, which delivers in-person education to prescribers through one-on-one visits and in group settings, and a naloxone training program for pharmacists. Naloxone, an emergency treatment to reverse opioid overdose, is available to patients and family members under a standing order throughout most of New York State.

The opioid crisis has resulted in an unmet demand for health providers trained in the treatment of substance abuse. A future UB program will train prescribers on the use of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid use disorder.

“Interprofessional continuing education supports the health care team model,” says Marsha Nelson, director of the Office of Continuing Pharmacy Education. “Our continuing education office has developed an online platform delivering enduring educational offerings and has partnered with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Office of Continuing Medical Education on numerous initiatives bringing our training programs to prescribers.”

Alicia Blodgett, director of the Office of Continuing Medical Education, adds the collaboration with the pharmacy school “presented a great opportunity for physicians and others who prescribe opioids to fulfill their requirement using the expertise of UB pharmacists and addiction medicine specialists.”