A Public Health Approach to Preventing Opioid Misuse: Targeting Pharmacists

Over 4 billion prescriptions are filled by American pharmacists every year.

Cochran and colleagues propose a more targeted approach to opioid misuse prevention using pharmacists.  These researchers analyzed survey data from pharmacists in Texas, a state with lower rates of opioid abuse and overdose, and Utah, a state with higher rates of opioid abuse and overdose.

They found that pharmacists with more experience and who worked at a chain pharmacy were more likely to screen for and to discuss opioid misuse.

Furthermore, pharmacists in Texas, the state with lower rates of opioid abuse and overdose, were more likely to discuss misuse with clients compared to pharmacists from Utah. Some of the reported barriers to screening included the pharmacists feeling awkward about asking patients about opioid misuse and not having access to screening tools. The researchers propose evaluating a screening and brief intervention protocol for pharmacists in order to prevent and reduce the burden of opioid misuse.