Pharmacists, NDSU Pharmacy School Tackle Opioid Crisis

The university recieved an $11,000 grant in July which they used for the seminar

FARGO, N.D. — Drugs containing opioids do not discriminate.

“Problems with opioids can crop up with any person,” said Amy Werremeyer, psychiatric pharmacist at Sanford Health.

“You can never predict who it will impact next,” said Siri Burck, NDSU third-year pharmacy student.

According to the CDC, more than 91 percent of Americans die every day from opioid addiction.

At NDSU Pharmacy School, students and professionals are taking matters into their own hands through an $11,000 grant.

It’s for a seminar to teach pharmacists and NDSU students how to screen patients for opioid misuse, talk to patients about overdose risks and identify patients who need Narcan.

“We view Narcan as kind of like a fire extinguisher,” said Heidi Eukel, NDSU associate professor in pharmacy practice. “You hope to God that you never, ever have to use it, but it would be silly to never have a fire extinguisher on hand.”

Pharmacists say they can’t stop the epidemic alone.

“It involves healthcare providers, it involves public folks, it involves just your average, everyday person in the community,” Werremeyer said. “We all have to work together.”

Although there’s an epidemic, pharmacists are stressing there’s a reason opioids are used in pain medications.

“Opioids absolutely have a place in drug therapy, especially for acute and chronic pain that isn’t controlled,” Eukel said. “However, a lot of our post-surgery patients can be easily managed on over the counter-pain medication.”

Eukel says it’s the younger generation who will help create change.

“After pharmacists who are currently working see how our new graduates are approaching this problem, then that will be adopted by the other pharmacists as well,” Eukel said.

The grant requires NDSU to host an evening seminar for pharmacists.

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