Roundup of the APhA 2017 Annual Meeting and Exposition


This year's meeting highlighted the opioid epidemic and ways pharmacists can improve patient care.

As pharmacists increasingly provide patient care services, listening to the patient is an important part of how pharmacists and other health-care providers can improve, said Leana Wen, MD, in her keynote address at the 2017 APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition on March 26 in San Francisco.

Wen, a former emergency department doctor and currently the Commissioner of Health for the City of Baltimore, told attendees that listening to the patient’s story doesn’t mean asking standard “yes” or “no” questions, but really hearing them.

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Overdose and opioid addiction are a public health emergency in Baltimore, Dr. Wen said, adding that she began convening various groups of stakeholder and health-care providers, including pharmacists, to work to solve the problem.

She said that the group realized quickly how much pharmacists could be relied upon for their expertise, and praised their work, pledging to continue collaborating with and speaking up for pharmacists.                               

APhA President-elect Nancy Alvarez, PharmD, said that as pharmacists gain provider status, achievement will come from “active engagement of patients who know we care.” Alvarez, who is the Assistant Dean of Experiential Education and Continuing Professional Development at Chapman University School of Pharmacy, Irvine, CA, urged pharmacists “to be players, to connect with one and other, and to show how much they care.”

The Complex Opioid Problem

At his keynote address on March 25, Elliot J. Krane, MD, told attendees that the nation’s reliance on opioids is said to lead to the opioid “epidemic.” But, “there’s a lot of inflammatory talk, [but] complex problems are usually not going to be solved by simple answers.” There are people whose lives depend on opioids, he added.

Related article: A Solution to the Opioid Crisis?

Dr. Krane, a practicing physician and Professor of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, CA, said that exposure to opioids alone does not cause addiction. He asserted that factors such as genetics and psychiatric illnesses create a predisposition to addiction and contended that opioid addiction is linked to depression, despair, hopelessness, and loss of self-esteem. The states with the highest addiction rates are not coincidentally the states left behind by economic growth, he noted.

Dr. Krane, citing the new CDC opioid prescribing guideline, said that “strict limits” on opioid prescribing are not a solution. “It’s going to result in inhumane treatment for patients with chronic pain.”

Pharmacists, Dr. Krane said, need to be sensitive to recognizing people with addiction when they come into a pharmacy, and every pharmacy should have a “take-back program.” He advocated for increased access to naloxone and a national prescription drug monitoring program.

[Compiledfrom APhA Press Releases]

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