Grant award to NDSU Pharmacy faculty supports stemming opioid misuse and accidental overdose in state

A faculty team at NDSU School of Pharmacy received a $284,000 grant award for a program to help stem opioid misuse and prevent accidental drug overdoses across North Dakota.

The one-year grant through the North Dakota Department of Human Services distributing federal funds will support this important program during a time when the coronavirus pandemic and periods of isolation can impact behavioral health and substance abuse issues. Nationally, 40 states report an uptick in opioid related mortality during the pandemic, according to the American Medical Association.

This team of NDSU pharmacy faculty in the Department of Pharmacy Practice has provided a robust program called ONE Rx, with education and a structured clinical intervention framework for pharmacists across North Dakota. Through the opioid and naloxone educational program, pharmacists have provided screenings for over 6,500 patients in two years. 

“The ONE Rx program has set the stage on a national platform to prevent opioid misuse and accidental overdose,” said Heidi Eukel, PharmD, RPh, and associate professor in the NDSU School of Pharmacy.

“With the help of the North Dakota Department of Human Services, we are able to extend these preventative initiatives into other areas of public health, such as nursing and home health. We will be working with patients, pharmacists, insurance companies, electronic health record platforms, and other state entities to assess needs and further expand the impact of ONE Rx.”

In the past two years, pharmacists across the state of North Dakota have been able to use the ONE Rx tools to identify patients at risk for accidental overdose (19.8%) and opioid misuse potential (4%).  These at-risk individuals have been referred to community support services, have been prescribed naloxone by the pharmacist, and have received naloxone from the pharmacy. 

“It is an honor to work closely with the profession of pharmacy on this impactful project,” said Eukel. “North Dakota’s pharmacists, many of whom I have educated over the past 12 years, are paving the way for opioid harm reduction.”

A portion of the grant funding will help initiate and support the new Center for Collaboration and Advancement in Pharmacy (CAP). Through the funding, a statewide working group will be established to provide training to other state agencies and build the profession of pharmacy’s preventative approach to care, with North Dakota leading the way for this model.

“We are grateful and honored to receive the support from the Department of Human Services to assist with the CAP Center,” said Elizabeth Skoy, PharmD, RPh, and associate professor of pharmacy in the NDSU School of Pharmacy. “The collaboration with state agencies is vital as we strive to advance the practice of pharmacy in North Dakota, while meeting patients’ needs and helping communities across the state.”

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