Pivoting from Pandemic to Epidemic
I have not only been impressed with the response of my community-based pharmacy colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic,
but I have heard many accolades regarding the NCPA/CPESN COVID Best Practices website
). It demonstrated how community-based pharmacists are important and essential members of the health care team. We made sure our patients continued to receive critical medications and enhanced services and, I believe, we made a strong statement to key stakeholders within the health care system—including payers—about our value. As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, we will now focus our efforts on another epidemic plaguing our country—the opioid crisis. It is interesting to note that that the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing that ensued had a negative impact on the opioid crisis with increasing reports of opioid-related overdose.
Much like our response to COVID-19, we need to be proactive in helping our country deal with the opioid crisis. That is the reason why our second progression is focused on opioid stewardship.
Community-based pharmacists can play a tremendous role in helping patients with opioid use disorders.
We are accessible to our patients, have an expertise in the pharmacology and therapeutics of medications, and we are knowledgeable of the laws and regulations regarding controlled substances. We need to use this unique knowledge and expertise to not only curb inappropriate opioid use or misuse, but also to ensure that our patients, who have legitimate health reasons for using opioids, are being treated and monitored appropriately.
The opportunity for community-based pharmacist to help resolve the opioid crisis is NOW
. Much like the impact our COVID-19 response had on highlighting our value so too will our opioid stewardship services. As we begin this new progression, I wish you all much success—this is important for our country, our communities, and most importantly our patients.