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First-year pharmacy students join the fight against the opioid epidemic

Published May 1, 2017

First-year pharmacy students are getting hands-on training in administering naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose situations.

“We want to make sure that everyone from the eighth grade on up will understand what we’re talking about when we talk about opioid addiction.”
Robert Wahler, Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmacy Practice

The practicum for the Self Care Therapeutics couse was developed by Robert Wahler, clinical assistant professor, pharmacy practice, and Michael Burns, a community pharmacy resident at Middleport Family Health Center. It enhances the basic classroom training School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences students have been receiving since 2015.

“We’re trying to give them some hands-on experience that includes mock patient-counseling sessions," Wahler says. "We want to make sure that everyone from the eighth grade on up will understand what we’re talking about when we talk about opioid addiction, and will be able to communicate ‘this is an opioid.’ "

The mock patient-counseling involved a discussion of the dangers of narcotics, the signs of overdose, and an explanation of how to dispense naloxone. Select students were then faced with a simluated overdose situation in which they had to administer the medication.

After successfully completing their first professional year of study, pharmacy students acquire their intern licenses. The enriched training provided by the school is preparing them to take on the additional responsibility associated with the opioid epidemic.

The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). More than 90 AACP colleges and schools of pharmacy have committed to joining the fight against prescription drug abuse by educating and training student pharmacists about lifesaving overdose interventions, including how to counsel patients and their loved ones on appropriate use of these lifesaving medications.

The program is part of a 2016 White House initiative to expand the use of tools that are effective in reducing drug use and overdose.

The University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is a leader in the education of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists, renowned for innovation in clinical practice and research. The school is accredited by the American Council of Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) and ranked as one of the top 25 schools of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences in the United States.

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