Pitt Pharmacy Partnership Addresses Opioid Epidemic

By: Madison Brunner

Pitt PharmacyThe University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy announced a new partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to address the opioid crisis in communities across the state. Opioid abuse is now the leading cause of death in Pennslyvania with about 300 lives lost each year.

“No group can solve this problem on their own, and no community is immune to this,” said Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. “This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of. We have to work our way out of this through collaboration.”

The Pennsylvania Heroin Overdose Technical Assistance Center will conduct training sessions to teach county representatives how to identify sources of county-specific overdose data and teach them how to build a plan to address overdoses using evidence-based practices.

Eighteen counties are signed up for training so far this year. The goal of training is to help each community implement programs that will reduce overdoses. Many counties are also focusing on engaging and educating parents, children and schools about opioid addiction.

“Community based efforts in conjunction with law enforcement is the best way to make a positive impact,” said David Batiste of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In addition to training, counties are taking action to prevent overdoses by offering prescription drug take-back boxes, distributing Narcan kits, offering recovery support services, and placing certified recovery specialists in jails.

Medication assistant treatment is an excellent resource, according to Latika Davis-Jones, administrator for the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services at the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. She is working toward ending the stigma associated with medication as a form of treatment.

“We hope that one day every parent will have the opportunity to see their child live to their fullest potential, free from addiction,” said Dr. Jan Pringle, Ph.D., director at the Program Evaluation and Research Unit of Pitt pharmacy.