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ASHP Opioid Task Force Focuses on Role of Pharmacists in Combating Opioid Crisis

By Paul Abramowitz posted 09-30-2019 16:32


Dear Colleagues,

This week we look forward to convening an Opioid Task Force meeting to address the important roles pharmacists play in combating the opioid crisis, a multifaceted issue that requires sustained efforts by all members of the interprofessional care team. While no easy fixes exist to end the opioid epidemic, ASHP and our 50,000 members have been working diligently to shape the solutions around opioids through the engagement of pharmacists on behalf of our patients and communities. Still, there is far more work to be done.

The interdisciplinary ASHP Opioid Task Force, chaired by Past President Lisa Gersema, is charged with identifying actionable solutions, tools, and resources to help address the national opioid epidemic through the engagement of pharmacists as medication therapy experts, clinicians, and providers on the interprofessional team. Key areas of focus include:

  • Identifying the roles that pharmacists play in initiating, building, and growing opioid stewardship.
  • Identifying best medication-related pain management prescribing practices that optimize the use of non-opioid therapies.
  • Identifying the public health roles that pharmacists play in their communities as related to the prevention and treatment of opioid use disorders.
  • Developing recommendations on a solutions-focused public policy agenda.
  • Identifying education, tools, and other resources to help hospitals and health systems address the opioid crisis, including in areas related to drug diversion prevention and mitigation.

The ASHP Opioid Task Force will examine how pharmacists can drive practice changes, community-wide opioid-related efforts, and policy solutions. The recommendations will be reinforced by the breadth and depth of expertise of each Task Force member, many of whom have direct experiences with developing opioid stewardship programs, policies to increase access to medication-assisted treatment, opioid-related community programs, and shaping the national agenda to address the epidemic. The Task Force will be working to finalize its recommendations in the forthcoming months. The outcomes of the Task Force will be published in a spring issue of the AJHP and shared widely with our membership, partners, and external stakeholders.

As discussed in a previous blog, ASHP is a sponsoring member of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. ASHP will be sharing the outcomes of the Task Force with NAM to contribute and support the larger national dialogue around opioids. ASHP serves on the Action Collaborative’s Pain Management Guidelines and Evidence Standards Working Group and Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Working Group. As the Action Collaborative works to further synthesize and amplify evidence-based medicine to prevent and manage opioid use disorder, ASHP is committed to highlighting the role of the pharmacist throughout.

We look forward to sharing more about our work with the ASHP Opioid Task Force and on ASHP’s ongoing efforts surrounding the opioid crisis, including creating various tools, education, and resources to support you in your practice.

As this work moves forward, I urge you to review ASHP’s current resources on the topic, including our toolkits on pain management, controlled substances management, and opioid management.

Click here to view the complete ASHP Opioid Task Force roster. 

Thank you for being a member of ASHP, and for everything that you do for your patients.