CDC urges pharmacists to leverage their position to prevent opioid overdoses

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Brochure offers tips on working with prescribers and communicating with patients who may be at risk

CDC has released a brochure targeting pharmacists as key to fighting the opioid abuse epidemic and preventing overdoses. Pharmacists: On the Front Lines—Addressing Prescription Opioid Abuse and Overdose emphasizes pharmacists’ ideal position on the front line to communicate with both patients and prescribers to mitigate the risks posed by opioid misuse.

“As many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with addiction. Pharmacists are on the front lines providing medication-related services and engaging in prevention and treatment efforts of opioid use disorder and overdose. Pharmacists are an important resource for patients and can provide vital information about proper use, side effects, medication fills, and safe storage and disposal,” said Grant Baldwin, PhD, MPH, director of the division of unintentional injury prevention (DUIP) at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC).

The resource offers tips on how to identify forged prescription orders and recognize patterns that could signify current or potential opioid abuse. Most important, it emphasizes patient safety and encourages pharmacists to collaborate with prescribers in integrated pain management and team-based practice models.

“Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999. These deaths are preventable, and pharmacists play an important role in reducing prescription opioid overdose. Pharmacists and prescribers share a common goal of ensuring safe and effective treatment for patients,” said Debbie Dowell, MD, MPH, DUIP senior medical officer and special advisor.

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