The US has seen a sharp increase in total death due to the opioid overdose in recent years, with 70,200 overdoses alone in 2017. Nationwide, some states have been disproportionately affected by opioid addiction that resulted in a different rate of death. Pharmacy technicians along with pharmacists are the front line in receiving prescriptions and dispensing medication assisted therapy (MAT). Previous studies have detailed the expanding role of pharmacist involvement in substance abuse treatment and recovery. Despite often being the first point of interaction in community pharmacy, little is known about pharmacy technicians’ views and roles in reducing stigma when patients receive medication assisted therapy (MAT).
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is sponsoring the first-ever study conducted in the US on this topic and although the study is still ongoing, early findings of the study have uncovered a couple key concepts. When describing interactions with patients suspected of opioid misuse, technician participants noted both stigmatizing and non-stigmatizing views of patients with suspected opioid use disorder. Although stigma was found to be present among pharmacy technicians, this finding is not abnormal among healthcare workers and does not represent a state of permanence. While the study is still underway, emerging results point to several roles that pharmacy technicians can take today to improve care for patients suffering from opioid use disorder. To access the full article outlining the studies key findings and next steps, click here.
“This project will be impactful because the profession of pharmacy needs to collaborate with pharmacy technicians to best serve patients suffering from opioid use disorder,” states Dr. Alina Cernasev, PharmD, PhD, lead investigator for this arm of the research project. “So far, this project has highlighted the vital role of technicians and their unique contributions to this patient population.”
The overall goal of this research study will be to determine pharmacy technicians’ views, roles, facilitators, and barriers to providing care to patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). This will be the first pilot study conducted in the US on this topic. Results of this research will directly impact future education efforts and assist in achieving NHA’s mission and vision: to develop, advance and advocate for the frontline pharmacy technician, resulting in improved patient care.