3 Ways for Pharmacies to Fight Opioid Abuse

Transaction Data Systems About The Author

Dec 2, 2015 10:43:40 AM

Opioids and Pill Bottle on Benjamins


Controlled prescription drug (CPD) abuse is a major concern nationwide. According to a statement released by the FDA in 2014, more than 16 thousand deaths per year can be attributed to CPD abuse. Fortunately, awareness has been raised on the issue, and it is being addressed at many different levels:

  1. The federal government is implementing tighter restrictions on dispensing.
  2. State governments are implementing reporting programs for tracking dispensed prescriptions.
  3. Drug manufacturers are creating new formulas for CPDs that have abuse deterrent properties.

So what can you do at the pharmacy level to combat this issue? The pharmacy can contribute to fighting this abuse in three ways.

Make Use of Your State’s PMP

The first thing a pharmacy can do is make use of their state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PMP). Most states have PMP programs. These programs require a dispensing file to be submitted, so they can make the data available for pharmacies and prescriber.

This database provides a vital piece of tracking the patient’s history with CPDs.  The database should be checked before dispensing a CPD to detect any irregularities in the patient’s history of receiving CPDs. Some states have even mandated that process.

Many pharmacy software programs can generate a file that makes inputting information into the database simpler. Pharmacies should ensure their current software provides a file that can be uploaded to the PMP in the required format. Having the file in the correct format and easily accessible for uploading will aid in getting the information to the PMP in the required time frame.

Consider Abuse Deterrent Medications

Drug manufacturers have been busy developing abuse deterrent formulas. These drugs are currently available on the market for pharmacies to purchase from their wholesalers. These abuse deterrent meds contain properties that make crushing the pills harder, and some formulas even have an extended release properties that prevent the immediate “high” that is a common goal of opioid abusers.

Although they are more expensive the state and federal governments are working with the PBMs to cover these alternatives. The manufacturers continue to work on additional formulas to add to the current abuse deterrent drugs that are currently available. Pharmacies should inquire into the availability of these new formulas as one step in helping detour opioid abuse.

Educate Your Patients

Pharmacies can make the greatest impact in fighting opioid abuse through education. Education programs are being developed across the country to aid in that education.

CPDs that are no longer being used should be disposed of in a safe manner. This is one piece of education the pharmacy can impart on their patients. Developing a safe CPD disposal program is one way a pharmacy can aid those unused CPDs from getting into the wrong hands. 

The second most common abusers of CPDs, according to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD), are adolescents. Adolescents are accessing unused CPDs from their homes and their relative’s homes for illicit drug use. A pharmacy can make a difference in educating patients on the danger of not limiting access to CPDs by adolescents and others. 

The most common abuser of CPDs, according to the NCADD, is seniors. Seniors can unintentionally take more medication than necessary. A pharmacy can combat this by developing counseling programs with their senior patients on the correct dose of their CPD.

A pharmacy should ensure their pharmacy software partner can provide educational materials concerning the correct dosage, side effects and any other additional warnings the patient should be made aware of. Medication education provided in a video format is also a great way to connect with seniors.

These are just a few ways that you can make an impact on the fight against CPD abuse. You are the last contact with the patient before the medication is taken and therefore can make the most lasting impression.