NDSU, pharmacists roll out "One RX" program to help prevent opioid abuse or overdose

Aug 16, 2018

NDSU Pharmacy Associate Professor Dr. Elizabeth Skoy at the news conference unveiling the "One RX" program.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s pharmacists are getting involved in screening patients for potential opioid abuse or overdose.

NDSU’s Pharmacy School and the state Pharmacists Association have rolled out what is being called “One RX.” The “One” stands for Opioid and Nalaxone Education.

The new program will give pharmacists a screening tool – a form, for patients to fill out, that will allow them to assess a patient’s potential to misuse or overdose on prescription opioids.

"Our innovation is really the screening at the beginning," said. Dr. Elizabeth Skoy, assistant professor of pharmacy at NDSU.

A pharmacist will be asking patients who are prescribed opioids to fill out a form that will screen them to see how likely it is they will become addicted – or are likely to overdose.

"As a pharmacist, we don't always know the patient's pattern of alcohol use, or what medications the patient is obtaining from another pharmacy, or if they have a diagnosis of sleep apnia," said NDSU assistant professor Dr. Amy Werrmeyer. "All of those things could potentially put that person at risk for overdose."

Werrmeyer said the pharmacist can review the screening document, and make recommendations and/or interventions appropriately. She said the pharmacists will not directly recommend treatment, but will encourage patients to seek help if they need it.

"Pharmacists can be one of the most important people to plant the seed," Werrmeyer said.

Pharmacists will undergo training, so they know what to look for when patients are screened.

"We want to draw them close," said NDSU Pharmacy professor Dr. Mark Strand. "We don't want to put them in a position where they feel they may have to run away from us and hide. We want to draw them in."

Strand saif the purpose is to demystify the drug, and give patients the opportunity ton have a safe conversation about it.