Pharmacists at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

A few weeks ago, participants from a wide array of professions came together in Atlanta to address the prescription drug abuse and heroin crisis in this country. Attendees at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta were a robust and diverse group, including health care providers, counselors, educators, business leadership, and representatives from academia, law enforcement, health plans, and government agencies.

Anne Burns, BSPharm, APhA Vice President of Professional Affairs, serves as our representative on the summit’s national advisory board. There was a strong message at the conference for a focus on treatment of addiction as a chronic disease, an area where pharmacists have much to offer in terms of patient care services.

The summit provided 10 educational tracks, including one specifically designed for pharmacists. The pharmacy track included six sessions focused on recommendations for identifying and addressing red flags; looking beyond red flags to new roles for community pharmacists; technology solutions including e-prescribing; trends in the use of naloxone, hydrocodone, and tramadol; robbery and diversion; and an update from DEA.

APhA will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill and to individual federal agencies to recognize pharmacists’ expertise and contributions to this effort, and will support state associations in their work.  We’ll use information gained from the summit to help pharmacists with resources and solutions for the challenges of substance use disorder and related issues.

For pharmacists to be effective, we must have the right training to make informed decisions, appropriate resources and coverage for pharmacists’ services and support and back up from other health care providers and regulators. With that, we can be a major part of the solution.

To learn more about the summit and to view courses in the pharmacy track, visit Also, our report from the summit on President Barack Obama’s panel presentation there is posted on