University pharmacy opioid activity data shows value of pharmacists’ efforts to fight opioid epidemic

Pharmacy Times interviewed Thomas Maggio, MBA, Head of Public Affairs and Engagement at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), to discuss his presentation titled Opioid-Related Activities in Academic Pharmacy at the AACP 2021 conference .

Alana Hippensteele: What is the Opioid Activity Database and why was it launched?

Thomas Maggio: The AACP started the database because the opioid epidemic is a major health crisis affecting all communities, and we noticed that there was no unified collection of relevant activities undertaken by the pharmacy. university.

The database itself is a collection of opioid-related activities carried out at all colleges and schools of pharmacy across the country, and the goal is to inform the pharmacy profession and other stakeholders of these efforts and to provide guidance and insight to those looking to start their own businesses to combat the opioid epidemic.

It all started in July 2018, which is when the AACP made an official appeal to our member colleges in pharmacy schools to share information on all the opioid related activities they conduct. In fall 2018, we received over 415 submissions. After receiving all of these submissions, a team of AACP staff and volunteer members of the Substance Use Disorders Special Interest Group began coding these submissions.

Thus, the coding involved classifying each activity into several categories, these categories are education, research, service, practice and advocacy. Then, the AACP also developed more than 50 tags to refine the coding process.

Finally, in February 2019, the AACP launched the Searchable Opioid Activities Database with all of these activities included.

Alana Hippensteele: What are some of the activities in pharmacy schools that the database has been able to highlight?

Thomas Maggio: We have highlighted several activities in our summaries, in our database poster that we share in meetings, and then in other posts.

Some good examples come from Ohio Northern University. They run a mobile clinic that provides an entry point into the health care system for those at risk for substance abuse and those with behavioral health issues among medically underserved communities in their area.

Using a multidisciplinary team of student health care providers under the supervision of a licensed professional, this project was able to provide initial assessment, intervention, referral, and follow-up care for these communities.

Specifically concerning the opioid epidemic, the mobile clinic had 4 objectives. The objectives were to provide an entry into the health care system for underserved people in the region, to connect people with addiction and behavioral health problems with specialized treatment services, to ensure the management cases after the initial drug addiction and behavioral health treatment to improve treatment adherence and reduce disease recurrence, and finally provide preventive health education on drug addiction to junior high and senior high school students and the general public of this region.

Another activity we wanted to highlight was the University of Texas at Austin activity which we included in our 2020 summary. We highlighted it because at the end of the activity it was providing statistical results of the direct impact that the activity had had.

The University of Texas at Austin is a leading provider of opioid overdose prevention training statewide, as well as the distribution of naloxone in Texas. It also provides continuing education for health professionals.

So, through this opioid overdose prevention training, approximately 1900 Texans were trained to prevent overdoses, 20,000 doses of naloxone were distributed and 146 successful overdose reversals were reported, although the number with the actual is probably higher. In addition, through online continuing education, 767 pharmacists and technicians, 62 physicians and other prescribers, and 146 behavioral health professionals were trained.

Then the last activities that we want to highlight is more of a larger group of activities, and these are the ones that we have labeled with Generation Rx. These activities are therefore vital because they show the impact that pharmacy students and future practicing pharmacists are having on the opioid epidemic, and there are currently around 27 Generation Rx activities in the database.

Alana Hippensteele: Wow, this is crazy. What kind of research has been done to understand and assess some of this data that has been compiled through the database?

Thomas Maggio: Several search points provide an overview of the database. So at AACP I keep track of various stats as we add new activities.

These statistics range from the distribution of categories, the number of activities, the number of labels, the public or private nature of the establishment, the type of traditional or accelerated program, then the activities by establishment which we also monitor. .

In addition to this, a group of AACP members worked on a research paper regarding the database. So, it was this same group of Substance Use Disorder members who helped label with the initial coding.

Thus, their aim for the manuscript is to provide an in-depth qualitative analysis of the 5 main categories, which were education, research, service practices and advocacy, as well as to identify strengths, gaps and additional needs. university pharmacy programs based on the activities reported in the database.

Finally, they wish to write a manuscript for the AJPE detailing the results, implications and steps to meet the needs identified through the analysis. Then one more thing, regarding research, several pharmacy students have conducted research using the database. Thus, these student pharmacists presented their training summaries at the AACP annual congress in 2020 and 2021.

Alana Hippensteele: What were the conclusions of some of this research? I know there has been a wide range of goals, but are there any research findings analyzing this data that it would be good to highlight?

Thomas Maggio: Sure. So, I’m going to break this down into 2 categories: the statistical results from the AACP and the results found by this research team.

So, there are currently around 467 activities in the database, so it has grown steadily since the initial launch. I know we’ve seen a slew of activity submitted over the past year due to COVID-19, but hopefully we’ll start to see a slight increase in submissions.

Regarding the distribution of categories, therefore, activities can belong to several categories, they do not necessarily have to belong to one, so they can be education and service. Thus, in total, we have 305 educational activities, 118 research, 112 services, 34 practices and 17 advocacy.

We also have operations represented in 45 states, including DC and Puerto Rico. It was a fairly even distribution of public schools versus private schools. We have 56 public programs and 58 private, then we have 104 traditional programs represented, 100 traditional programs represented and 14 accelerated programs.

Next, regarding beacons, we have 50 beacons. I will go through the top 5 that I have used. We have students in pharmacy, addiction, naloxone, didactics, and then addiction treatment.

So some of the article’s emerging findings used those strengths, gaps, and needs, to figure out what it was. Thus, they found that the strengths lie in education in interprofessional and community activities. Within the framework of community service, access to naloxone and elimination of drugs has proven to be a strength, and also simply overall through database partnerships with local health services.

Some of the gaps identified related to harm reduction beyond naloxone. So, we labeled any service activity that was categorized as a service that contained naloxone was also labeled with harm reduction because that’s the ultimate goal of that. But one gap was the harm reduction beyond the naloxone labels.

Another gap was educational opportunities through community experience and research and practice. Finally, the needs were that schools needed resources for advanced training and then policy changes to allow pharmacists to play a substantial role in harm reduction.

Alana Hippensteele: Okay, and why are some of these findings important to academic pharmacy in general?

Thomas Maggio: Strengths, gaps and needs all deliver results for academic pharmacy. The highlights show the activities that are prevalent in the database, so institutions that may lack these types of activities can use the database to gain direction and insight. Gaps and needs show where there is room for improvement.

However, knowing these gaps and needs is beneficial as it allows colleges and schools of pharmacy, as well as AACP, to focus their efforts on addressing them in the future. These findings also provide opportunities for collaboration between colleges and schools of pharmacy within their own state and highlight the role of pharmacy students in helping to address the opioid crisis in their community.

Alana Hippensteele: How might the research findings potentially impact the future of how pharmacy schools approach opioid-related activities in academia?

Thomas Maggio: So the search results can only help. It shows the value that colleges and schools of pharmacy bring to their communities and the impact of the work and efforts of student pharmacists. Knowing that they are tackling a problem and that it is working will only build confidence in pharmacy students and show the value pharmacists have across the country.

Gaps in needs identify areas for growth to continue providing additional training for pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists, as well as educating communities. Thus, by addressing these issues, they will be able to expand their programs and reach their communities in ways that they have not been able to do in the past.

Alana Hippensteele: Yes, thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today, Thomas.

Thomas Maggio: Ah no problem, thank you.

About Terry Gongora

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