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5/9/2019 – SC – PRESS RELEASE
Pharmacists and Education Services Turn the Tide of Opioid Misuse in SC

Opioid Crisis Case Study: SCPreSCriptions project demonstrates clear success utilizing outreach, education, and mentoring to reduce opioid prescribing and increase addiction support. 

Columbia, SC, May 2019 — The South Carolina Law Review article, “Utilizing Pharmacists and Education Services to Promote Proper Use of Opioids Across South Carolina,” opens with the fact that, “Deaths related to opioid overdoses—including prescription and illicit drugs—rose an average of ten to twenty percent per year from 2014 to 2016 in South Carolina (the State). In 2015 alone, the number of deaths due to opioid overdose surpassed the overall number of homicides in the State.”  

This article delineates the results of a $500,000 grant from the South Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to The South Carolina Pharmacy Association (SCPhA)—along with the South Carolina Pharmacy Foundation (SCPF) to develop the PreSCriptions Medication Safety Matters project targeting four specific goals: 

  1. Increase enrollment in the South Carolina Reporting & Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS), the State’s Prescription Monitoring Program; 
  2. Increase enrollment in opioid treatment programs and substance use disorder treatment;  
  3. Establish and increase use of safe and approved drug collection disposal programs by establishing at least one site per county; and  
  4. Decrease deaths related to opioid use. 

The PreSCriptions Medication Safety Matters project brought together pharmacists, marketing professionals, and academics in a concerted effort to address the opioid crisis on all fronts—reaching out to providers and the public in-person, online, and in the media. 

“We are fortunate to have Cheryl Anderson as a member of our quality improvement team. As a nationally recognized pharmacist, Cheryl is well versed in sharing best practices and medication safety with providers,” said Yvonne Copeland, vice president of operations at CCME. 

“Messaging for the public focused on the dangers of prescription drug misuse and the importance of reducing this risk by keeping prescriptions in a locked or safe place in the home and properly disposing any expired or unwanted medications.” In addition, targeted messaging to destigmatize opioid addiction and its treatment was used to increase self-awareness and patient referral to treatment programs. 

The willingness of this cross-functional team to meet providers and the public where they are created clear, concrete system changes garnering the following results. 

  • The average number of opioid prescriptions dispensed monthly in the State (SC) has steadily declined since 2015 to a low of approximately 75,000 in February 2018. 
  • The number of prescriptions dispensed for opioid withdrawal treatments peaked at 16,541 prescriptions in January 2018, compared to 14,147 prescriptions in 2015 prior to the start of the grant project. 
  • Since the start of the academic detailing (an educational outreach program for clinicians) portion of the Project in 2017, the number of enrollees in SCRIPTS increased from 5,195 in January 2016 to 19,909 as of October 2017 
  • The amount of disposed medications at DEA-sponsored events increased steadily throughout the Project from 6,688 pounds in April 2016 to 9,032 pounds in October 2017. 

South Carolina has clearly shown that utilizing experts and stakeholders to engage providers and the public can positively impact the opioid crisis. However, to quote the closing remark of the study, “Many opportunities exist to expand these efforts by building upon the momentum generated by this project.” 

A complete copy of “Utilizing Pharmacists and Education Services to Promote Proper Use of Opioids Across South Carolina,” the academic detailing tool, and the PreSCriptions Medication Safety Matters logo are available here


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