More states should follow Rhode Island’s lead in allowing pharmacists to take a more significant role in anti-addiction treatments on a trial basis as we continue to look for ways to stem the opioid crisis (“In R.I. addicts to get care from pharmacies,” March 12).
Pharmacists are highly-trained medication experts and play an integral role on a patient’s health care team including assisting with prevention, treatment, and quality-of-life issues.
Pharmacists are also one of the most accessible health care professionals, especially in rural and underserved areas where the opioid epidemic is most severe. In fact, 90 percent of Americans live within five miles of a pharmacist who can provide ongoing treatment and advice for those struggling with addiction.
Policy makers must continue to support efforts like the one underway in Rhode Island on the national, state, and local levels to make it easier for pharmacists to do what they do best: Take care of our patients and improve outcomes such as curtailing addiction. This also means continuing to remove barriers and allowing pharmacists to play a more significant role in assisting patients with issues such as pain management at the beginning to help prevent addiction in the first place.
The writer is executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.