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September 30, 2019

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

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

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 managementcontrolled 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.



May 7, 2018

Provider Status and Opioids Legislation Update

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

I WOULD LIKE TO UPDATE YOU on ASHP’s ongoing efforts to advocate for passage of legislation that would recognize pharmacists as patient care providers in the Medicare program, as well as legislative efforts related to the opioid epidemic.

As the 115th Congress begins to shift focus to the November elections, opportunities for healthcare legislation are limited. We anticipate that any healthcare-related legislation will be mainly focused on the opioid epidemic. As a lead member of the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, ASHP is working to determine ways in which provider status language might be addressed in the pending opioid bills. However, given that the focus of these bills is mainly on opioids, our efforts for now may need to shift to articulating how pharmacists can play important roles in helping to solve this major public health problem.

Efforts to obtain provider status are part of ASHP’s larger vision that medication use will be optimal, safe, and effective for all people all of the time. Our intent is to enhance our members’ ability to provide care as part of the interprofessional patient care team.

As states look to expand their scope of practice laws to promote the direct patient care roles of pharmacists, ASHP is supporting state-level efforts of our members and working at the federal level to include these direct patient care roles in Medicare. We also want to make sure our members are well-positioned to align their efforts with Medicare modernization, which is now focused on moving toward value-based models that align payment with quality and outcomes. ASHP members are in an excellent position to lead efforts to optimize medication therapy through value-based models, and ASHP will be there to make sure that Congress, Medicare and Medicaid, states, and others understand the many advanced practice models our members are engaged in as well as the direct patient care roles they play.

As we continue to work with Congress, states, and public and private payers to recognize pharmacists as patient care providers, we will keep you apprised of these activities and our many advocacy efforts on your behalf — addressing persistent drug shortages, rising drug costs, and threats to the 340B Drug Pricing Program, as a few examples.

Thank you for your support and your continued engagement as we work together to help our patients achieve optimal medication therapy outcomes and to advance pharmacy practice.



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