PHARMACY

NACDS Foundation supports Project Lifeline’s efforts to end opioid crisis

BY Sandra Levy

A new study funded by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation is pursuing an additional and collaborative strategy to contribute to solving the opioid abuse epidemic.

NACDS is collaborating with Project Lifeline, led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit, or PERU, to improve public health through substance abuse screening and referral of at-risk patients in Blair County, Pa.

The overall goal is to deliver actionable results that can be sustainable and replicable in other communities across the nation. The newly formed collaborative care model includes Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships, or BDAP, and several community pharmacies within the county.

“Project Lifeline advances the mission of the NACDS Foundation as it centers on responding proactively to an urgent public health need — patient-centered, partner-driven solutions to prevent and treat opioid abuse and misuse,” NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger said. “The consequences of the opioid epidemic have been far-reaching, and we are committed to evidence-based programs like this one that offer tailored, community-based approaches that hold the potential to impact patient care and communities broadly.”

Project Lifeline uses an evidence-based approach to pharmacists’ delivery of early intervention for individuals at risk for substance abuse, which consists of screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment, or SBIRT. BDAP is a central partner with community pharmacy through all phases of this project, providing a case manager to conduct assessments and referrals for substance use disorder.

“We are so grateful to the NACDS Foundation for supporting this project. We believe it has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people in Blair County, where we work every day to help curb the opioid abuse epidemic, which is taking such an immense toll on our community,” Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships’ executive director Judy Rosser said. “We look forward to implementing it and demonstrating its effectiveness so others across the county can learn and benefit from it in their own communities.”

The Project also aims to increase substance abuse screening; build vaccination uptake for hepatitis B; improve access to hepatitis C and HIV testing; and expand access to naloxone, a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The need for vaccination increase in hepatitis B and improving access to hepatitis C and HIV testing is demonstrated by research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, which suggests that the recent steep increase in cases of acute hepatitis C virus infection is associated with increases in the opioid injection. Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, barriers to preventing hepatitis B infection in the United States remain. These barriers include low rates of hepatitis B vaccination coverage among adults and increased rates of injection drug use — a major risk factor for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infections.

The CDC said that the current opioid abuse epidemic “requires immediate attention and action,” which underscores the importance of advancing partnership projects like these to help prevent opioid abuse.

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