Script Your Future – Tips on Talking With Your Pharmacist About Using Medications Safely

Script Your FuturePharmacists are a valuable resource for patients when they have questions about their medications. Being the drug experts means that pharmacists are well-educated in both prescription and non-prescription medications. If you or someone you know have any questions about your medications and how to take them safely, contact your local pharmacist!

When speaking with your pharmacist regarding your medications, it is very important to give him/her any information about your health and current medications. Things to inform your pharmacist about include: any food or drug allergies, if you have any restrictions that could influence your ability to take medications (i.e. difficulty swallowing), a list of all your current medications and health conditions, and if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, etc.

When asking your pharmacist, or any other healthcare professional for that matter, a question regarding your care it can be helpful to write down a list of questions you want to ask them. Examples of questions to ask your pharmacist:

  1. What are the brand and generic names?
  2. What is this for, and how is it going to help me?
  3. How and when should I use it? How much do I use?
  4. How long should I use it? Can I stop using the medicine or use less if I feel better?
  5. What should I do if I miss a dose or use too much?
  6. When will the medicine start working? How should I expect to feel?

When talking with your pharmacist about your medications, be sure you write down any important information they tell you, take home and read any pamphlets of information provided to you, and make sure you have the pharmacy’s phone number in case you need to call back for further questions! Once you get home, there are additional steps you can take to ensure you are taking your medications safely and properly. Tips for safe medication use at-home include: double checking the label on the bottle to make sure you are taking the correct medication, using proper measuring devices (syringes, medication spoons, etc.) to get the correct dose, and following proper storage directions for the medication (refrigeration, away from light, etc.).

For more helpful tips on how to talk to your pharmacist and take your medications safely, visit www.fda.gov/usemedicinesafely

Script Your Future: How to Dispose of Unused Medications at Home

The dispensing of prescription medications, especially controlled substances such as narcotics, is tightly regulated by pharmacies and other government agencies. With that being said, there is a lack of oversight on how to discard these medications properly if they go unused. A national survey of United States adults found that nearly half of all patients with pain medication had or expected to have “leftover” medication (1). The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 68% of those who use pain medications non-medically got them from friends or family members (2). It is clear to see how keeping unused narcotics increases the chances of unwanted drug diversion.

Fortunately, there are several solutions to combat this problem. Many retail pharmacies now sell drug disposal systems commonly in the form of pouches or bottles. These systems are safe, effective, and convenient ways for patients to get rid of any unused or unwanted prescription medications without flushing them down the drain. Activated charcoal within the pouches or bottles renders the medications inactive when water is added to the container along with the medications. The containers should then be appropriately sealed, and can be thrown away with household trash. Another upside to these disposal systems is their usefulness for various drug formulations (tablets, capsules, liquids, and patches). Below are samples of at-home drug disposal systems that are easily used. Many drug manufacturers will donate these drug disposal systems at no cost, so ask your local pharmacy about them today!

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Delterra Pouches

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Element Drug Disposal System

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Can dissolve 45 pills or 6 oz. liquid or 6 patches

Contributed by: Rebekah Dunham, Class of 2017

References:

  1. Kennedy-Hendricks A, Gielen A, McDonald E, McGinty EE, Shields W, Barry CL. Medication Sharing, Storage, and Disposal Practices for Opioid Medications Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(7):1027-1029. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2543
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2013). National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville

Pharmacogenetic Testing: Determining What Medications Are Right for You!

Have you ever been prescribed a medication that just did not work for you? Have you ever experienced a negative medication side effect that someone else on the same medication did not?

If yes, you may be able to thank your DNA.

Every human has his/her own, unique set of genetic code. This uniqueness or variation within our genes causes medications to be activated and metabolized differently, causing different effects on the human body. Some of these genetic variations can impact an individual’s response to their medications.

Pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing, usually done with a simple cheek swab, is used by healthcare professionals to determine which genetic variations are predominant within each patient. This information is then used to understand the patient’s response to certain medications. PGx alleviates the need for trial and error in the treatment of patients, and offers a way to strategically target therapies based on an individual’s genetic code.

Employing PGx testing gives healthcare providers the ability to screen medications before initiating therapy. This helps patients avoid drugs they will not even be able to process and/or metabolize well, and instead it provides their provider insight on what medications will work from the beginning. This can help accelerate the benefits from medications, reduce wasted time, reduce expenses for ineffective medications, and possibly even save lives.

References:

  1. Rxight. (2016). Why is PGx Testing Important? Retrieved January 10, 2017, from Rxight: Right Medicine, Right From The Start. http://rxight.com.

    Contributed by: Rebekah Dunham, Class of 2017

The National Opioid Epidemic and Pharmacist’s Role in Drug Diversion

An epidemic is ravaging our country and the ways in which we, as pharmacists and healthcare providers, can aid in the fight that is the “Opioid Crisis” are numerous. Take our beloved state of West Virginia for instance, where there have been 33.5 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents from 2011-13 compared to 22 per 100,000 residents in the years preceding. (1) “Wyoming, McDowell, Boone and Mingo [counties] lead the nation in fatal overdoses caused by pain pills, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (2) Over the past 6 years drug wholesalers have shipped nearly 800 million oxycodone and hydrocodone tablets drawing the attention of both the DEA and the state government. One of the nation’s largest wholesalers, Cardinal, agreed to pay over $40 million in fines to settle allegations of failure to report suspicious purchasing patterns for opioids. (3) You may find yourself asking what can I, a pharmacist, do to help?

First and foremost, counseling our patients on their medications and informing them of the potential risk of abuse is a great first step. It is important to get to know our patients and their situation so we can make sure the medications are used responsibly. Remind patients that medication is not to be shared with friends or family under any circumstances without the consult and consent of their health care provider. Inquire of your patient(s) whether the medication is working to alleviate symptoms and offer additional ways to help manage pain such as exercise, meditation, or even yoga. If needed, refer them to additional resources such as their doctor or other healthcare providers.

Secondly, inform patients about overdose protocol and the availability of lifesaving drugs such as naloxone (Narcan). Police and paramedics, who are usually the first responders to overdose victims, are also carrying naloxone to help curb loss of life. Educate individuals on the proper use of naloxone to reverse an overdose whether it accidental or intentional and where to purchase an emergency dose. Naloxone is now available by physician protocol at your local pharmacies in many states, including WV. It is imperative to instruct those who purchase naloxone that after administering a dose they must go to the hospital immediately because the effects will wear off and the victim will require hospital attention.

DEA 360 Strategy Meeting in the UC Ballroom!

DEA 360 Strategy Meeting in the UC Ballroom!

Pharmacists also have a responsibility to be proactive in this “Opioid Crisis” and become advocates for change in our communities. Reaching out to our state Senate and House of Representatives to promote new legislation and initiatives to curb this wave of abuse is another great step. On Wednesday January 25th 2017, DEA representatives came to the University of Charleston to host a stakeholders strategy meeting that focused on providing support for West Virginia for heroin and opioid use, and violence in our community. US Attorney Caroline Mastro has approved $500,000 for the trial portion of a program to diversify ways to help out this crisis. The DEA speakers addressed the present dismissive attitudes surrounding the subject and called out to leaders to unite with the common goal of fighting addiction in this state.

These patients are not the enemy but a casualty to what has historically been labeled a victimless crime. So the next time someone comes in a day early to fill their script or the doctor ups their dose don’t just shove them out the door replying, “it is too soon to fill” or “we don’t have any in stock.” Have a conversation with the patient to make sure they are aware that help is out there if they are ready to start their journey to recovery. Those who are abusing pain medications may be doing so in order to mask the pain of another situation and your conversation may spark the road to recovery! Please join us in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

References:

  1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3128229/West-Virginia-rate-drug-overdose-deaths.html
  2. http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/12/19/report-dea-records-show-west-virginia-flooded-with-drugs.html
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/cardinal-health-fined-44-million-for-opioid-reporting-violations/2017/01/11/4f217c44-d82c-11e6-9a36-1d296534b31e_story.html?utm_term=.d248d375b1fa

 

UCSOP Hosts DEA 360 Strategy Meeting

Exciting things are happening at UCSOP, in the Charleston community, and around the state of West Virginia! On January 25, 2017, UCSOP hosted the DEA 360 Strategy Meeting for Charleston, WV. This meeting served as the kick-off event in the 6th city for this nationwide initiative. The DEA 360 program focuses on heroin, prescription drugs, and violence within our communities. screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-2-04-33-pm

DEA 360 utilizes a three-fold approach to fight the drug epidemic in its pilot cities. This approach focuses on diversion control, law enforcement, and community outreach working together to make our cities safe and free of drugs! The ultimate goals of the 360 Strategy are to stop the deadly cycle of heroin and opioid drug abuse and addiction, partner with the medical community to increase awareness about the link between heroin and opioid use, and to strengthen community organizations to provide long-term support for this initiative.The basic components of the strategy are outlined below:

  • Coordinated Law Enforcement Operations: Focuses on DEA leadership with coordinated local law enforcement actions targeting all levels of drug trafficking, organizations, and violent gangs supplying drugs in our neighborhoods.
  • Enhanced Diversion Control: Increases engagement from drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners, and pharmacists to increase awareness of the heroin and prescription drug problem. Pushes for responsible prescribing practices and safe use of these medications throughout the medical community.
  • Building Community Partnerships:  Community outreach and partnerships with local organizations following DEA enforcement actions to equip and empower communities with the tools to fight the heroin and prescription drug epidemic. Focuses on young people through after school programs, education, and media attention to this issue.

Overall, 200+ people from DEA (both local divisions and DEA Headquarters in Washington DC), community groups and organizations in Charleston, along with UCSOP faculty, staff, and student pharmacists attended the meeting! Be on the lookout for local television and radio adds about the program as well as a website designed specifically for our Charleston community. It’s time to “Wake Up Charleston”!

UCSOP Faculty and Students host a luncheon for DEA representatives after the meeting!

UCSOP Faculty and Students host a luncheon for DEA representatives after the meeting!

 

UCSOP Kicks off Radio Program on Medication Adherence & Safety

On February 1, 2017 the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy kicked off the first of a six-part Radio Blog Talk Series on Medication Safety and Adherence in partnership with Forest of the Rain Productions.

Script Your FutureEvery Wednesday from 8:30pm-9:30pm EST, February 1-March 8, 2017, the program will feature our students, faculty, staff and community partnership. We will be sharing information about medication adherence and highlighting our community efforts to promote medication safety.

The first show focused on the Script Your Future Campaign. Guests included our Dean, Dr. Michelle Easton and 2017 Script Your Future Chairs, David Poe (Class of 2018), Erik Hanson (Class of 2019), and Tyler Leroy (Class of 2020).  The show was recorded for rebroadcasting and download and can be accessed at: http://forestoftheraineducation.weebly.com/parent-talk-live-special-edition-series-safe-medication-use-script-your-future-medication-adherence-challenge.html

In total, UCSOP We has the potential to reach between 5,000 and 10,000 persons per show throughout the U.S. and in over 50 countries Worldwide.

Learn more about the series at: http://forestoftheraineducation.weebly.com/forest-of-the-rain-productions-and-the-university-of-charleston-school-of-pharmacy.html

 Future programs include: 

February 8: Generation Rx—Prescription Safety Education Partnership with Kanawha County Schools and the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy

Guests: Being Confirmed

February 15: Proper Medication Disposal

Guests: Rebekah Dunham, Class of 2017, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy and Kristi Justice, Executive Director, Kanawha Communities that Care

February 22: The Nationwide Drug Epidemic & The Role of Medication Adherence with

Guests: Michael Brumage, MD, MPH, FACP, Executive Director/Health Officer, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department; Lindsay Acree, Pharm.D., Assistant Professor, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy; and Rachel Peaytt, Class of 2019, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy

March 1: Medication Adherence & Safety–Focus on DEA 360 Program

Guests: David Gourley, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Agency, Charleston District Office; Victoria Oyewole & Amy Bateman, Class of 2018, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy

March 8: Disease Management and Medication Adherence

Guests: Lindsay Acree, Pharm. D., Assistant Professor, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy; Kristy Lucas, Pharm.D., Professor, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy; Karrie Juengel, Pharm. D., Assistant Professor, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy; and Anne Tiechmann, Pharm.D., Assistant Professor, University of Charleston School of Pharmacy