Pharmacists play an important role in the fight against drug abuse and misuse. These gatekeepers are tasked with ensuring that medications which are potentially addictive are properly prescribed and that they do no harm to the people using them. Pharmacists execute this mandate by scrutinizing prescriptions for controlled substances, caution customers about the use of these drugs, double check with the doctors to ensure that they issued the prescription, refuse issuance of drugs if they feel suspicious and alert doctors if they feel that people might fraudulently attempt to get them to fill a prescription of these controlled substances for resale or misuse.
The increasing cases of prescription drugs finding their way into wrong hands is a sure indication that the war against drug abuse is far from being over. Patients abuse opiates by overusing the drugs or selling these controlled substances to others. They get the drugs by getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors and using them to get the drugs from different pharmacies to avoid detection.
The consequences of drug abuse have been staggering. In the State of New Hampshire, there has been a steady rise in the number of drug deaths with the state recording a total of 280 deaths in 2014. Of these deaths, 213 cases are said to have been caused by opiate or synthetic opioid abuse.
In a bid to curtail this runaway increase in opiate abuse in New Hampshire, two pharmacists, Mr. James Tomacchio and Andrew Gyorda have opted to come up with a local solution to the problem facing their community. According to Tomacchio, one of the best ways to deal with opiate abuse is by providing opiate medications on a need-only basis. He argues that this can be achieved through the use of compounding and specialty pharmacology. Tomacchio believes that specialty pharmacists can work closely with doctors to formulate and supply appropriate medication to patients suffering from diseases that include Crohn’s disease, cancer, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.
Tomacchio argues for specialty and compounding pharmacology as one of the surest ways of reducing the deaths related to opiate abuse. This, he says, helps by ensuring that each patient is given medication that is not only made from a unique formulation but also localized at the site of the patient’s problem. The use of gels and creams as delivery agents allows the drugs to be absorbed through the skin reducing the chances of the drugs interacting with the blood stream which would lead to drug addiction.
Pharmacists must remain vigilant if the war on opiate abuse is to be won. No pharmacist should issue any controlled substance without exercising due diligence. Opiate addiction often leads to heroin addiction as users opt for this cheaper and more available hard drug.
Andrew Gyorda, a pharmacist on the New Hampshire Seacoast, has opted for a legislative alternative to deal with opiate abuse and misuse in his community. Gyorda, through his senator, Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, has been on the forefront in fighting for the reinstitution of the 100-dose limit that had been removed from New Hampshire’s controlled substance regulation. Although his first attempt failed, Mr. Gyorda’s persistence coupled with his Senator’s support has seen the signing of a bill that seeks the establishment of a commission that will study opiate misuse in New Hampshire. All eyes are on the senate to see whether it will approve or kill the bill.