Pharmacy and health partners announce new statewide program to help prevent opioid misuse and accidental overdose

August 15, 2018 – Bismarck, North Dakota – Fixing a problem well after it occurs often can take more time and resources than addressing it when it starts or working to prevent it. A new statewide program announced today in Bismarck called ONE Rx aims to stem opioid misuse by increasing awareness when patients first fill an opioid prescription.

ONE Rx (opioid and naloxone education) is an innovative approach to educate patients who receive prescribed opioid medications in participating community pharmacies in the state of North Dakota. Addressing opioid use prior to misuse is a cornerstone to help communities.

“We commend the partners in this program for recognizing the key role community pharmacists can play in preventing opioid misuse, and for ensuring those who fill opioid prescriptions have the education and training they need to properly screen patients and identify those who may be at higher risk,” said Gov. Doug Burgum. “The state is pleased to participate in this program through the North Dakota Department of Human Services as another way of addressing the opioid crisis on the front end and preventing the misuse and overdoses that are devastating families and communities across North Dakota and the nation.”

The pharmacy profession in North Dakota has a reputation for being progressive and a national leader, according to Mark Hardy, executive director of the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy.

“We know that some people do need prescribed opioids in some circumstances and many are not always aware of the impact the prescribed drugs can have,” said Hardy. “ONE Rx is designed to equip pharmacists with tools to screen for opioid use disorder, identify patient needs and provide medication counseling and resources to safely use prescribed opioids.”

The project is the effort of multiple partners to proactively help patients and communities. The program received grants totaling $150,648 to make it available in the fall of 2018. Funding from the North Dakota Department of Human Services, the Alex Stern Family Foundation and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation made the program possible.

The group enlisted the expertise of faculty members in the NDSU School of Pharmacy to provide statewide continuing education for community pharmacists. The free three-hour training sessions will be offered in Fargo on October 3, in Bismarck on October 12, and in Minot on October 13. Participating community pharmacies also will be provided a toolkit with the resources they need to deliver this program of care. The program covers the science of addiction, opioid use and community support services. Pharmacists will be able to register for the training by going to the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy website and clicking on ONERx events.

“Community pharmacists have a unique relationship with their patients and are often the most easily accessible health professionals in their communities,” said Mike Schwab, executive vice president of the North Dakota Pharmacists Association. “This program will provide tools to assist community pharmacists to do even more to ensure safe use of opioids.”

This continuing education program developed in the NDSU School of Pharmacy will educate pharmacists in North Dakota on a method to screen patients receiving opioids, using the Opioid Risk Tool (ORT). The tool assists in identifying individuals who may be at higher risk of opioid misuse. Pharmacists who are trained to administer the tool can then provide patient care and counseling as needed.

This program also will deliver education on the use of naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. NDSU School of Pharmacy faculty members Mark Strand, PhD; Heidi Eukel, PharmD; Amy Werremeyer, PharmD; and Elizabeth Skoy, PharmD; along with Jayme Steig, PharmD, of Quality Health Associates of North Dakota, received the grants and will be among those providing the continuing education.

The FM Area Foundation and North Dakota Board of Pharmacy also provided initial seed funding for an earlier pilot project. In the pilot program, 26 percent of patients identified at some risk of opioid misuse. Approximately 30 percent of patients in the pilot study identified at risk of accidental overdose.

“This continuing education program for pharmacists at community pharmacies in North Dakota moves opioid misuse and overdose prevention to the initial patient encounter,” said Dr. Elizabeth Skoy, associate professor in the NDSU School of Pharmacy. “We are grateful to these organizations and agencies that have provided funding to make this continuing education available for community pharmacists in the state.”

About the NDSU School of Pharmacy
The mission of the NDSU School of Pharmacy is to educate students and practitioners, advance research and scholarship, deliver quality patient care, and provide service to the profession. As a student focused, land grant, research university, we serve our citizens.

About the North Dakota Department of Human Services
The ONE Rx project is an effort associated with North Dakota’s State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grant (Opioid STR), funded by the federal Department Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), administered through the North Dakota Department of Human Services.

About the North Dakota Board of Pharmacy
The board is responsible for examining and licensing applicants for licensure as pharmacists, for issuing permits to operate pharmacies, and for regulating and controlling the dispensing of prescription drugs and the practice of pharmacy for the protection of the health, welfare and safety of the citizens of the state.

About the North Dakota Pharmacists Association
The North Dakota Pharmacists Association is the professional society representing pharmacists in North Dakota. The mission of NDPhA is to act as the leader in advocating the role of the pharmacist as an essential provider of health care and to support pharmacists in providing optimal pharmaceutical care.

About the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota Caring Foundation
Through giving and investing, the Caring Foundation focuses on key health issues that help improve the health and well-being of North Dakotans and their communities. The Caring Foundation works with grantees to support nonprofit sustainability, collaborate on shared outcomes and create lasting change.

About the Alex Stern Family Foundation
The Alex Stern Family Foundation supports the arts, social welfare/human services, education, youth recreation, civic projects and health issues for the benefit of the greater Fargo-Moorhead area. Since 1977, the Foundation has invested over $15 million in nonprofit organizations in Cass and Clay counties.

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