Local Pharmacists Fight Opioid Epidemic
The opioid overdose crisis still continues across the country, but local pharmacists are taking some extra steps to combat the epidemic in the Brainerd Lakes Area.
“We are hoping to provide this education to expand access to Naloxone, even to family members or friends that may be witnessing an overdose situation,” said Northern Pines Clinical pharmacist Sharon Ng.
“Overdose symptoms typically shallow breathing, they could be unconscious, laying on the ground or the other common symptom is the pinpoint pupils,” said Dan Vang, a pharmacist at Essentia Health Pharmacy in Baxter.
Naloxone comes in two forms, an injection and also a nasal spray.
“It actually gets broken down very rapidly and the opioid that might have caused the initial overdose could last in the person’s body for a much longer time,” Ng said.
The naloxone is only intended to revive the person until emergency services can arrive.
“They become conscious and then their pain returns,” said Roberta Dume, a pharmacy resident at GuidePoint Pharmacy in Brainerd. “We’re kind of stopping the opioid doing it’s job to stop the pain, so their pain will come back…they also will have sweating, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and not fun symptoms that anybody wants to experience.”
But it is a measure that can now be taken after local pharmacies have completed education on how to properly inform patients and their families on the Narcan.
“Our job is to identify patients that would be at high risk for an overdose,” said Laura Schwartzwald, a pharmacist and owner of GuidePoint Pharmacy.
They determine this looking at what types of medications they take and the dosage.
“You want to look at the amount of opioids they are taking, so opioids are another word for pain relievers, with the typically strong ones like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and other ones,” Vang said.
After just a short time of being able to offer the Narcan on a collaborative practice agreement, the Guidepoint Pharmacy is already putting their education into use.
“The Crosby Guidepoint has received the education, started identifying patients, talked to those patients and they have already done three prescriptions in the last day,” Schwartzwald said.
With a purpose that is comparable to an EpiPen after an allergic reaction.
“When we dispense them, they come in two doses; it’s like EpiPens, they come in a 2 pen pack given if you are not receiving help in a timely manner to give that second EpiPen shot, just like Narcan,” Dume said.
The cost of Narcan is about $80, although most insurance companies cover it. To find out about how to get Narcan for you or a loved one in case of an emergency, contact your local pharmacist.