Armed With Information - American Medicine Chest Challenge


Focus on topics and challenges of community pharmacy


Armed With Information



I’m just like many of you guys who in order to fulfill my CE requirements attend programs and seminars halfheartedly hoping that I will at most enjoy the continental breakfast and free note pads and pens provided. Half way through the morning lecture I find myself day dreaming or sneaking peaks at my phone checking in on the latest news feed on Facebook, engaging in words with friends or responding to e-mail all while trying to appear attentive.But, I recently attended a seminar put together by the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey in cooperation with the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and The NJ Dept.of Human Services that actually engaged me the entire time. I took away so much useful information and felt compelled to share it with you all.

From previous blogs that I have written you can surmise that I am extremely bothered by the abuse and misuse of prescription pain medications. I have expressed my great discontent with the excessive prescribing of them and have detailed the aggravation that retail pharmacists have to endure on the dispensing end. This seminar reiterated the fact that abuse of prescription pain medications has hit epidemic proportions. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 Americans die on a daily basis from an overdose of prescription painkillers. Prescribed opioid medication now kills more people in the U.S than heroin and cocaine combined. I found these statistics to be startling!

How many of you are aware of Prescription Monitoring Programs or PMP’s? These are databases created by individual states designed to collect data from pharmacies on controlled dangerous substances and Human Growth Hormone dispensed into the state. Currently forty states have operational PMP’s. Only individuals who are authorized to provide health care services to patients, yes this includes pharmacists, can have access to the site. The information includes the patients name, prescription number, prescriber and pharmacy location where the script was filled. This site helps to insure the legitimate use of CDS’s and identifies and deters drug abuse and diversion. It also facilitates and encourages identification, intervention and treatment of people addicted to prescription drugs. Health care providers can also be educated on use and abuse trends. Another great advantage is that information is combined regardless of payment type and information is combined across different businesses. For example out of state mail order pharmacies processing for instate prescriptions and out-patient hospital pharmacies are included and the information is available at your finger tips. In NJ the website For other states, check out your local government website for more information.

Another great site I learned about was created to ensure the safety of Pharmacist’s, pharmacy staff and customers. It is called RxPatrol. It is an internet-based pharmacy crimes intelligence database. It tracks pharmacy crimes across the U.S. It offers information on how to keep pharmacies safe and secure and includes training videos and other helpful tools. Once registered, you can view the data collected by searching by state or zip code and obtain information about robberies. All facts are verified with the investigating law enforcement agency before posting to the system. You can view satellite images to pinpoint location, view surveillance photographs and can opt to receive e-mail alerts when a robbery occurs near your vicinity. Rxpatrol partners with local crime stopper chapters to offer rewards for information leading to an arrest. For more information check out

Have you any idea whose statistics show are the first drug dealers in your child’s life? YOU! Yes that’s right… You are! Just stop and think for a minute, most of us have at some time or another been prescribed a pain medication for something. I can honestly tell you that in my case, I never required the full amount that was prescribed to me and have found medication bottles months later with medication still in them. As a parent of two young children, I keep my meds out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion. But, it never occurred to me that with today’s trends, I will have to worry about them taking them for recreational use. Kids nowadays are privy to all kinds of information at their fingertips and know exactly what to look for when they raid your medicine cabinet. One of the most important things we can do is to discard of any unused and expired medications. You can visit which contains a national online directory of permanent prescription drug collection boxes. You can even download an app on your phone and encourage your customers to use it. In NJ, Project Medicine Drop Off offers secure metal drop boxes at participating law enforcement agencies that are available 24/7 and the contents are secured and destroyed by law enforcement officers authorized to handle them. If a Project Medicine Drop box is not located near you, you can make the medications undesirable and difficult to get to by mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter. Log on to for more details.

Although prescription drug abuse has become such a huge problem that has swept across our nation in recent years there are programs and other things that have been put into place to help with the fight. There does not appear to be an easy solution to this problem just like most of the other narcotic epidemics but education surely will be an important tool in the fight. Making the information available to the public and professionals is a positive start and educating everyone on where to look and how to obtain this information is equally as important. In my opinion, as pharmacists we all have an important role to play as well as the doctors and insurance companies if we want to have a chance at making a difference. Staying in the know is a good way to start!