The University of Findlay is joining more than 70 nonprofit organizations to combat the opioid epidemic across Appalachia via a Cardinal Health Foundation initiative.
The University received a $10,000 Best Practices in Pain Medication Use grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to survey and educate licensed prescribers within Hancock County regarding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opioid prescription guidelines for chronic pain management. The goal is to mitigate the opioid scourge that has exponentially worsened within the county and throughout the region.
UF’s study and educational outreach will be conducted by College of Pharmacy professors Tim Burkart, Pharm.D., and Paluri Sai Shantanu Rao, Ph.D. Two undergraduate student researchers will assist them.
“Our focus is to gauge what the prescribers in the community know already about the most up-to-date CDC guidelines,” said Tim Burkart, “and then offer blanket education to everyone we survey. We’ll come back at a later time and re-survey to see if our education provided any sort of impact into their prescribing habits that would hopefully follow the CDC guidelines a bit better,” he explained.
The CDC guidelines seek to ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment, and to reduce prescription opioid misuse, abuse, and overdose.
Burkart said surveying is expected to begin this month, with the study and educational component ending by the spring 2019 semester. Participation will be voluntary. Blind data collection will ensure anonymity. Results will be publicly shared, particularly with nonprofit organizations and government agencies that are addressing the local epidemic.
If all goes well with this study, Rao said they will use it as a template to expand the effort to opioid prescription providers in surrounding counties. “We’re hoping to get some data so this can be of value to others as well,” said Rao.
Rao and Burkart said they’re looking forward to collecting results that might make a positive difference in people’s lives. Burkart is also a practicing pharmacist who works with local law enforcement agencies and the Hancock County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board on prescription drug issues. Rao conducts pharmacological research that seeks to better understand the basic science behind opioid addiction.
“For the small rural community that we are, this (study) will be interesting,” said UF grant administrator Tricia Valasek.
Organizations receiving Best Practices in Pain Medication Use grants will also come together regularly in a learning collaborative guided by Geisinger Health Clinic pain management specialists. They will share their progress, lessons learned and best practices as they fight the opioid epidemic.
The opioid addiction statistics are sobering, and worsening each year. The following are drug overdose statistics, the majority of which are opioid induced:
- Hancock County’s 2017 death toll from opioid overdoses was 23 in 2017. Only two of those did not include a mix of another deadly substance, such as fentanyl. Fifteen were ruled accidental deaths. (Source: Hancock Public Health)
- Non-fatal overdose hospital visits in Hancock County in 2017 climbed to 297, a number that could include the same people making multiple trips. (Source: Hancock Public Health)
- Ohio recorded 5,232 overdose deaths within a 12-month period that ended June 31, 2017, making it the third deadliest state for such deaths, behind Florida and Pennsylvania. (Source: CDC)
- Nationally during that period, provisional numbers show recorded drug overdose deaths throughout the nation numbered 66,972, making it the top cause of death among those age 50 and younger. (Source: CDC)
The Cardinal Health Foundation grants totaled more than $3 million, and were distributed to various nonprofit organizations throughout Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. The grants were made through Cardinal Health Foundation’s Generation RX program and are funded by Cardinal Health’s Opioid Action program, launched in fall 2017. Funding targets efforts for prevention education, best practices in pain medication use, and community-level responses.
“All of the organizations selected for funding share our goal of turning the tide on the opioid epidemic,” said Jessie Cannon, vice president of Community Relations at Cardinal Health. “Ultimately, we expect our grantees to learn from each other – and we will learn from them. As they develop best practices, our goal is to spread this work throughout the country, and foster solutions to this complex public health crisis.”
About Cardinal Health’s Opioid Action Program
The Opioid Action Program is a multi-prong initiative to help communities in four of the nation’s hardest-hit states fight the opioid epidemic. Each element of the program is cited by leading experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) and the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, as critical to reducing opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction. The Opioid Action Program builds on Generation Rx, created through a partnership with the Cardinal Health Foundation and The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy to raise awareness and knowledge about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.
About the Cardinal Health Foundation
The Cardinal Health Foundation supports local, national and international programs that improve health care efficiency, effectiveness and excellence and the overall wellness of the communities where Cardinal Health, Inc.’s (NYSE:CAH) approximately 50,000 employees live and work. The Cardinal Health Foundation also offers grants to encourage community service among its employees and works through international agencies to donate much-needed medical supplies and funding to those who need them in times of disaster; because Cardinal Health, Inc. is #AllInForGood. To learn more, visit www.CardinalHealth.com/community.
About Generation Rx
Generation Rx works to end prescription drug misuse through prevention education, drug take back, best practices in pain management and community collaborations. The program was created through a partnership with the Cardinal Health Foundation and The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy. Since 2009, more than one million people across the country have been reached with Generation Rx messages, and pharmacists in 40 states have been honored with the Generation Rx Champions Award. To learn more, visit www.GenerationRx.org.
About Cardinal Health
Cardinal Health, Inc. is a global, integrated healthcare services and products company, providing customized solutions for hospitals, healthcare systems, pharmacies, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and physician offices worldwide. The company provides clinically proven medical products, pharmaceuticals and cost-effective solutions that enhance supply chain efficiency from hospital to home. Cardinal Health connects patients, providers, payers, pharmacists and manufacturers for integrated care coordination and better patient management. To help combat prescription drug abuse, the company and its education partners created Generation Rx, a national drug education and awareness program. Backed by nearly 100 years of experience, with approximately 50,000 employees in nearly 60 countries, Cardinal Health ranks #14 on the Fortune 500. For more information, visit cardinalhealth.com, follow @CardinalHealth on Twitter, @cardinalhealthwings on Facebook and connect on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/ company/cardinal-health.