Pharmacist Opioid Dispensing Confidence in an Evolving Practice Landscape

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Journal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy


Pharmacists are increasingly called upon to make dispensing decisions when presented with prescriptions for opioids. Risk mitigation strategies have been implemented to assist pharmacists in making these decisions, but they have also increased the complexity of decision-making. The primary objective of this study was to describe change in pharmacist comfort levels with opioid prescription dispensing over the previous year. This was a cross-sectional, multi-state, 16-item survey disseminated to the general membership of 2 state-level professional pharmacy organizations in November 2018. Of 274 pharmacists who opened the questionnaire, 195 (n = 195) completed at least 80% of the survey and were included. Three-fourths (74.6%) of the respondents noted community/retail as their practice site. When asked about change in comfort with dispensing opioids, 19.6% reported an increase in comfort level, 42.5% reported a decrease in comfort level, and 38.0% reported no change. When asked about information that may increase comfort in dispensing opioids, respondents noted diagnosis, morphine milligram equivalent, prior treatments, past medical history, drug monitoring program verification, and previous treatment trials with opioids. Comfort with dispensing opioids decreased over a 12-month period among pharmacists surveyed. Improved communication between prescriber and pharmacist, as well as enhanced access to patient health information, is critical to reduce barriers to care for patients.

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