Experts argue pharmacists are first line of defense in opioid epidemic

The prevalence of opioid abuse was the topic of a recent special issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. | File photo

Pharmacists and the difficult balance they must keep between patients suffering from chronic pain and the prevalence of opioid abuse was the topic of a recent special issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association. 

"Opioids, Naloxone, and Beyond: The Intersection of Medication Safety, Public Health, and Pharmacy," was guest edited by Jeffrey Bratberg of the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy and contains 30 peer-reviewed articles addressing the opioid crisis.

Bratberg has spoken at a number of events including the Pain Institute APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition, where he hosted educational sessions designed at shedding light on the opioid crisis.

“There are millions of people at risk and thousands of people dying,” Bratberg said. “They’re dying everywhere, and anyone who’s concerned about the safety of opioids should consider naloxone as the effective antidote to protect the patient.”

Naloxone, sometimes referred to as an opioid antidote, blocks the effects of the drugs and can be administered via nasal spray or even an injection.

“It has no potential for abuse, and does not work on other drugs,” Bratberg said. He actively encourages pharmacists to advocate for safe usage of drugs, and be aware of overdose dangers. Bratberg has also advocated for safe consumption sites, nonprescription syringes, and the dispensing of naloxone.

“Pharmacists have to take the lead in educating the public about naloxone as a lifesaving drug,” Bratberg said. “Starting the conversation and perfecting the naloxone offer is critical to expanding access for patient and reversing overdoses on the spot.”

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