Mobilizing pharmacists to address the opioid crisis: A joint opinion of the ambulatory care and adult medicine practice and research networks of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy

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The opioid crisis represents one of the largest failures of our current health care system as it continues to claim lives at an unprecedented rate and has caused a devastating range of preventable morbidity. Although the availability of highly potent synthetic opioids has amplified the urgency of the crisis for patients and communities, this problem has evolved over several decades. Pharmacists are in a position to offer many potential solutions due to their widespread accessibility, extensive drug knowledge, and integration into various health care settings. This opinion paper challenges the status quo by calling on all pharmacists to embrace evidence-based opioid stewardship and harm reduction practices, contribute to the medical management of opioid use disorder, and address the misconceptions and prejudices that serve as barriers to effective, compassionate patient care. Regardless of practice setting or available resources, pharmacists can take deliberate and impactful steps to address the opioid crisis. Some pharmacists may be positioned to implement innovative and far-reaching pharmacist-led clinical services, while others may simply begin with careful consideration of the language they use when speaking to and about patients with substance use disorders. To optimize patient outcomes, the ineffective laws, regulations, and policies that negatively impact pain and addiction care must be addressed so that evidence-based solutions can be widely disseminated. Pharmacists must aggressively advocate for the removal of barriers preventing high-level clinical practice or policies that perpetuate patient harm and abandonment. Finally, there must be support for continued research on pain and opioid use disorder treatments and services, as well as the impacts of harm reduction practices and pharmacist-led clinical services, so that resources can be allocated effectively.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

JACCP Journal of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy