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HEALing Communities Study is hosting virtual continuing education series for pharmacists in October: The pharmacy role in addressing the opioid epidemic

Four New York counties that are participating in the HEALing Communities Study – Cayuga, Columbia, Putnam, and Suffolk – are partnering with the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences to provide a free continuing education series to all pharmacists interested in exploring their role in mitigating the impacts of the opioid crisis in their communities. The series is held from 9 – 10:30 am on October 3, 17, 24, and 31 and is led by a team of multi-disciplinary experts working to end the opioid crisis in New York State. Continuing pharmacy education credits will be available for participants. Download the conference flyer

Pharmacists are medication experts with extensive training and their advice is respected by their clients. They are often involved in public health responses, such as immunizations and tobacco cessation management. Pharmacists also have a unique role in public health through harm reduction and consumer engagement. We invite all pharmacists in the county to attend this educational opportunity and help reduce opioid overdose deaths.

Richard Pinckney, pharmacist and owner of Rx City Pharmacy in Auburn, is looking forward to this conference. “It is important to my staff and me because the opioid epidemic is a huge concern in our community,” Pinckney said, “Any information or knowledge gained will be an asset to our clients and the healing of the entire community.”

The series will cover information on COVID-19 impacts on the opioid epidemic, naloxone, medication treatment, harm reduction, and legal considerations in the pharmacy setting. Register for one or all sessions at https://pharmacyce.acphs.edu/user/login. Sessions include the following learning objectives:

Sunday, October 3, 2021:

The opioid epidemic, impacts of COVID-19, and how pharmacists can reduce overdose deaths through increasing access to naloxone

Speaker: Veronica Salvas, MPH, Epidemiologist, Healing Communities Study, Columbia County, NY

  1. Recognize the magnitude of the opioid epidemic and appreciate the increased risk of overdose associated with the COVID-19 pandemic nationally and within NY State.
  2. Recall temporal and geographic trends in naloxone dispensing via pharmacies and appreciate the need for increased access to naloxone, particularly in suburban and rural communities.
  3. Review consumer reported barriers to accessing naloxone via pharmacy dosing data from NEXT Distro, a web and mail-based harm reduction and naloxone distribution program.
  4. Consider ways pharmacists can use a harm reduction approach to increase access to naloxone through lessening the impacts of reported barriers; lack of transportation to the pharmacy, high cost of naloxone, lack of awareness of where to access naloxone, and stigma against people who use drugs.

Equity in access: Naloxone, medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), and COVID-19 services

Speaker: Dr. Dawn Goddard-Eckrich, Ed.D., Associate Research Scientist, School of Social Work, Columbia University

  1. Describe disparities around MOUD, naloxone, COVID-19 testing and vaccine at the pharmacy level.
  2. Recognize the role pharmacy policies have in contributing to stigma and barriers to opioid treatment and engagement (i.e. space, stocking, ID's, advertising, training) and the importance of using non-stigmatizing language when interacting with colleagues and patients.
  3. Recall Group Model Building (GMB) and how this community engagement approach and data can be used to reduce the disparities.
  4. Review pharmacy and pharmacist's role to reduce health disparities and support overdose prevention.

Sunday, October 17, 2021:

Medication for addiction treatment: Pharmacology, misconceptions, and myths

Speaker: Kelly Ramsey MD, MPH, MA, FACP, FASAM, President-elect for The New York Society of Addiction Medicine and the Regional Director (representing the state of New York) for the national American Society of Addiction Medicine, Board of Directors

  1. Describe low-threshold evidence-based interventions to reduce overdose deaths, including distribution of naloxone and use of fentanyl test strips.
  2. Identify best practices in pharmacy settings for dispensing MAT/MOUD with a focus on buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.
  3. Recall best practices in pharmacy settings when working/engaging with people with opioid use disorder (OUD) and people who use drugs (PWUD).
  4. Define reframing diversion as “community redistribution” & prevalence of MAT/MOUD sourcing outside of clinical settings.
  5. Relate policy updates on MAT/MOUD.
  6. List common myths/misconceptions associated with MAT/MOUD.

Sunday, October 24, 2021:

Harm reduction for pharmacists

Speaker: Emma Roberts, Director, Capacity Building Services, National Harm Reduction Coalition

  1. Develop an understanding of best practices for pharmacists in engaging patients in harm reduction interventions, including overdose prevention, safer use options, and providing opioid use disorder treatment.
  2. Cultivate a harm-reduction 'friendly' environment with the use of patient-centered communication strategies and patient materials.
  3. Describe syringe access laws and their implementation in the pharmacy setting.
  4. Assess utilization of opioid agonist treatments currently available in community pharmacy settings.
  5. Identify the purpose and utility of fentanyl test strips, given the current rise in opioid overdose rates in stimulants.

Optimizing pharmacy interventions in New York State

Speaker: Sharon Stancliff, MD, Associate Medical Director, AIDS Institute, NYS Department of Health

  1. Identify the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and how it works in New York State in pharmacies.
  2. Describe and present a brief training to a patient requesting naloxone.
  3. Identify how the Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program (N-CAP) works.
  4. Discuss the rationale and regulations regarding the Expanded Syringe Access Program.
  5. Find Drug User Health Hubs and syringe access programs near their pharmacies.

Sunday, October 31, 2021:

Response to the opioid crisis: Legal dimensions and harm reduction

Speaker: Karl Williams, RPh, JD, St. John Fisher College, President, Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, Professor, Wegmans School of Pharmacy

  1. Describe New York State laws surrounding dispensing of controlled substances and opioids.
  2. Review regulatory responses intended to mitigate the opioid epidemic: rules, regulations, and changes.
  3. Review required counseling items and revisioning the role of the pharmacists in pharmacists in dispensing opiates and opioid use.
  4. Propose an expanded role for pharmacists in combatting the opioid crisis.