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Addressing Drug Addiction Issues and Appropriate Opioid Use

The Problem:

Drug diversion and prescription drug abuse have created a crisis across the United States. Pennsylvania has the 14th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country. This corresponds to 15.3 per 100,000 people suffering drug overdose fatalities. The number of overdose deaths, a majority from prescription drugs, in Pennsylvania has increased nearly 90% over the last 15 years. These troubling statistics plague our commonwealth as we are faced with this great challenge.

Click here for the DEA report for Pennsylvania for the 2016 overdose death rates.

Addressing the Problem:

While the problem may never be completely resolved, a multi-faceted collaboration of healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, prescribers, and patients are working together to reduce the impact of this crisis.


PPA has made a commitment to be a leader in the state in addressing this problem and has put together a Task Force called our Addressing Opioid Addiction and Abuse and within that task force has formed several work groups including:  Naloxone, PDMP, Dispensing Guidelines/Practices, and Treatment Options.  Additionally, programming at conferences and through webinars and on demand CEs continue to bring awareness about the issue to the forefront of our members.


PPA has developed resources to help pharmacists prevent drug diversion and recognize prescription drug abuse. Pharmacists typically see a patient more times per year than any other healthcare professional. Knowing the signs and what to do when you see them could prove to be crucial in saving your patient’s life. Learn more about our resources below.

Pennsylvania Department of Health - Opioid Abuse Information: This page includes a host of resources on naloxone.   Click here for this link.


Stocking and Dispensing Naloxone

Find out more information, including patient stories, how to implement, and registries on PPA's Naloxone Toolkit.  Click here to view this Toolkit.


Pharmacy Medication Drug Take-Back Program

This letter from the PA Department of Drug and Alcohol outlines how pharmacists can fight the opioid epidemic by encouraging people to get rid of unwanted or unused prescription medications.  Click here to view this letter. 


Click here for an update of this letter.


Medication Disposal

Pharmacists Opioid Dispensing Guidelines

Opioid Dispensing Guidelines - These Guidelines developed by the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association in conjunction with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health, in order to provide assistance and Guidance to pharmacists on addressing diversion issues.  The Guidelines are a complement to the Prescribing ones that appear below and are also approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy.


Pharmacy Podcast interviews Thomas Franko, Chair of PPA's Opioid Dispensing Guidelines task force.  To listen to the podcast, click here.


Prescribing Guidelines

The following Guidelines have been endorsed and promoted by the PA Departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) and Health:


CE Prescribing/ Dispensing Guidelines

PPA has a short 30 minute template that can be used to deliver a CE or informational session on this topic.  If you are interested in utilizing, please contact Danielle Adams.


Addressing Pennsylvania's Opioid Crisis: What the Health Care Team Needs to Know

Special Free CE Series

These continuing education programs are a collaboration between numerous groups including the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and others. Each session consists of four, 15-minute modules. The programs cover a variety of tools and resources for prescribers and dispensers to better address opioid addiction with their patients.

Click here to access these sessions


Pennsylvania's New Prescription Monitoring Program Is Here

Pennsylvania's monitoring program went live in late summer.  Find out all the details on their website.  Click here for this link.


Treatment Availability and Options

SBIRT: Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidenced-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and drugs. Typically, this practice is conducted in medical settings, including community health centers, and has proved successful in hospitals, specialty medical practices such as HIV/STD clinics, emergency departments, and workplace wellness programs such as Employee Assistance Programs. Please click here to view an issue brief about SBIRT.


Click here for more information on SBIRT training programs.


DEA Information on Diversion:

Do you have an addition problem or do you know a pharmacist that does? There is help. S.A.R.P.H. is the Secundum Artem Reaching Pharmacists with Help and offers pharmacists and pharmacy students an opportunity to face challenges in their lives head-on and come out even stronger in the end.

Click here to learn more about S.A.R.P.H

Other Resources:

Aware Rx: Prescription Drug Safety

AWARxE Website - a national effort on the drug problem sponsored through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

Prescription Drug Abuse Facts and Statistics

Click here for this link.


APhA Opioid Resource Center

Click here for this link.


The U.S. Surgeon General took historic action by sending a personal letter to more than 2.3 million health care practitioners and public health leaders. He is seeking our help to address the prescription opioid crisis. PPA wants to make sure you see his letter, a copy of which is accessible at http://turnthetiderx.org/# . Please take a moment to read it. Then go to www.TurnTheTideRx.org/join to join with clinicians and public health leaders from across the country in a simple but powerful movement to end this epidemic.  Read the letter. Take the pledge. And spread the word.  Together, we can #TurnTheTide and save countless lives. 

CDC Poison Prevention Campaign

Up and Away and Out of Sight: Poisoning Prevention Campaign
Out of sight really is out of mind! CDC and project partners announced a new poisoning prevention campaign aimed at protecting children from unintentional medication overdoses. Up and Away and Out of Sight outlines the steps families can take to ensure safe medicine storage. Each year, one out of every 150 two-year-olds in the United States visits an emergency department for an unintentional medication overdose, most often after finding and eating or drinking medicines without adult supervision. For more information about the Up and Away and Out of Sight educational program, visit www.UpAndAway.org  or in Spanish www.UpAndAway.org/es



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