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    Solutions to the ongoing opioid epidemic take shape

    This year, APhA’s Generation Rx Award of Excellence has gone to Jeffrey P. Bratberg, PharmD, BCPS, in recognition of his commitment to educate pharmacists and future pharmacists about prevention of prescription medication abuse and misuse.

    Jeffrey BratbergJeffrey BratbergIn 2012, Bratberg, a clinical professor of pharmacy practice, University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, Kingston, R.I., and his student pharmacist Tara Thomas, a 2013 PharmD candidate, developed a continuing education program to train pharmacists under the first statewide collaborative pharmacy practice agreement (CPA) for naloxone.

    The pilot program started in a few Walgreens drugstores in Rhode Island. As the epidemic continued to rage, the program expanded throughout the state and has since been used by other chains nationwide.

    See also: Combating the growing opioid epidemic with the "rescue shot"

    The program

    DT: Can you describe the overdose education and training program that you co-developed in 2012?

    Bratberg: It is a little complex in how it started.

    The regulations governing CPAs in Rhode Island actually don’t allow initiation of therapy by pharmacists. CPAs also require that pharmacists have two years of experience or a residency.

    In addition, when you are entering into these agreements to manage certain conditions like diabetes or hypertension, five credits in that specialty are needed.

    We asked the state Board of Pharmacy to acknowledge that only one credit is needed due to a CPA to initiate naloxone.

    Each company or group that went before the board received a waiver that stated pharmacists in training don’t need five credits, just one credit per year to be able to prescribe, counsel, and dispense naloxone.

    Basically, we worked out an agreement with the board to say, “Look, here is an epidemic. We need to fight this, and this seems to be the best way to do this.”

    Asking pharmacists to find five credits of overdose education in 2012 would be difficult. It is a lot easier now. 

    See also: One thing we can do about the opioid epidemic

    Stakeholders

    DT: Who were the major stakeholders who had to be persuaded?

    Bratberg: That is what is great about the Rhode Island model. Everybody was on board from the start.

    We have one department of health, one Board of Pharmacy, and everybody knows each other. The Board had already been working on solutions for naloxone from pharmacies for over a year when we came to them with this plan.  

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