In Rhode Island, some get addiction care at the pharmacy

Under an experimental program in Rhode Island, approximately 125 patients will receive much more than their medication when they fill their doctor's prescriptions for anti-addiction treatments at six pharmacies. The pharmacist will take over their ongoing care, with broad discretion to change doses and frequency of visits.

Under an experimental program in Rhode Island, approximately 125 patients will receive much more than their medication when they fill their doctor's prescriptions for anti-addiction treatments at six pharmacies. The pharmacist will take over their ongoing care, with broad discretion to change doses and frequency of visits. If successful, the program could open a new pathway to treatment for people addicted to opioids. Funded with a $1.6 million grant to Rhode Island Hospital from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the 3-year research study will enroll 250 people, with one-half getting the pharmacy-based care and the other half receiving usual care. Once doctors determine the patients are "stable" on their medications, a process that can take from 2 days to a month, the pharmacists will take over their care. The pharmacies participating in the study—the six Rhode Island branches of Genoa Healthcare—are located within community mental health centers and specialize in managing chronic mental illnesses and addiction. Visiting once or twice a week, patients meet in a private room with their pharmacist. They place a swab under their tongue for several minutes, which will be sent to a lab for analysis. The swabs reveals whether patients have taken the full dose of their prescribed medication or used any illicit substances. With that information in hand, pharmacists will talk with patients about recovery goals, struggles, and successes, employing motivational interviewing, a counseling technique that helps patients overcome ambivalence and make changes.