NDSU School of Pharmacy receives funding for program to help combat opioid crisis

July 10, 2017 Fargo, North Dakota – Two groups have awarded $11,078 in funding to two North Dakota State University faculty members in the School of Pharmacy for a program to assist in prevention of opioid abuse.

Mark Strand, professor of pharmacy practice and Heidi Eukel, associate professor of pharmacy practice, received a grant award of $8,078 from the FM Area Foundation for “Pharmacist Engagement in the Community to Target Opioid Abuse Prevention.”

In addition, the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy also awarded $3,000 for the program.

To engage pharmacists in the community-wide fight against opioid abuse, the funding will help to:

  • Train community pharmacists in the Cass County area on the use of naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose
  • Provide education on the use of an Opioid Risk Tool to screen patients for risk of abuse
  • Offer pharmacists training in patient counseling and referral

“As health care professionals, pharmacists have a role in authorized opioid prescriptions dispensed in our communities,” said Eukel, who holds a doctor of pharmacy degree. “They are able to provide professional support to such patients to help prevent and recognize opioid abuse.”

Drug overdoses in North Dakota increased from 20 in 2013 to 61 in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics System. There was a nearly 60 percent increase in the number of controlled substance prescriptions dispensed in the state between 2008 (935,201) to 2015 (1,493,847) according to North Dakota Board of Pharmacy data. Additional statistics are available through the Substance Use North Dakota website. A July report from the CDC provided a county-by-county picture of opioid prescription rates across the U.S.

While authorized prescription opioids assist patients with medical conditions, if not closely monitored, they can lead to addiction and abuse of other opioids such as heroin. This creates a public health concern that calls for collaboration between multiple sectors.

“Public and private partnerships underway between the medical community, public health, law enforcement, educators, treatment providers and other community members show the breadth of collaboration needed for this problem,” said Charles D. Peterson, dean of the College of Health Professions and School of Pharmacy at NDSU and a registered pharmacist. “We appreciate the support of the FM Area Foundation and the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy to make this program possible.”

According to the executive director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy, Mark Hardy, pharmacists play a key role in developing solutions for such community issues. “This project is a worthwhile initiative and it is an opportune time to engage community pharmacists in this issue,” said Hardy.

The FM Area Foundation is a nonprofit, community foundation created by and for the people of Cass County, North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota. The FM Area Foundation helps people give back to the community and ensures the needs of the community are addressed now and in perpetuity. Working in partnership with individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits, the FM Area Foundation manages charitable funds and provides grants to qualified nonprofit organizations and causes.

The NDSU School of Pharmacy in the College of Health Professions educates students and practitioners, advances research/scholarship, delivers quality patient care and provides services to the profession.

As a student-focused, land-grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

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