The Harrison College of Pharmacy has an established history of expertise in forensic chemistry, neurosciences, pharmacology, drug delivery, pharmacoepidemiology, and practice-based research. This work helps us better understand opiate use disorders, focusing on detection, prevention, and treatment. Work in this area runs the spectrum of practice-based to bench research. Among them is a current project led by Dr. Lindsey Hohmann titled “Exploring Organizational Readiness to Implement Pharmacy-Based Opioid Counseling and Naloxone Services in the Rural versus Urban Deep South.” This project aims to explore organizational readiness and identify factors associated with the implementation of opioid counseling and naloxone services in community pharmacies in the rural versus urban Deep South. Alabama pharmacists and technicians are currently being recruited for online surveys and focus groups in Spring 2022. In the lab, Drs. Miranda Reed and Vishnu Suppiramaniam recently received $1.8 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to clarify the mechanism by which exposure to cannabinoids during pregnancy causes learning and memory deficits in offspring. They also propose the use of a novel molecule that has been shown to correct these memory deficits. This is increasingly important as cannabinoids are an increasing presence in both the therapeutic and substance misuse arenas.
As part of COACH’s commitment to education, faculty are working to provide health care professionals with the knowledge to prevent, recognize, and assist in treatment and referral for opiate use disorders within their practice and community. These educational programs bring together a diverse health care audience to encourage communication and collaboration across disciplines. Included in this work is an effort by Drs. Marlowe, Brent Fox, and Haley Phillippe to conduct a series of town hall meetings and summits across the state over the next three years in reference to Alabama’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. The town halls will consist of an interactive PDMP demonstration and skills-building exercise led by Auburn personnel with support from ADPH staff. The summit series will focus broadly on drugs of concern, with particular attention devoted to stimulants, sedatives, and benzodiazepines, both prescription and illicit. The role of the PDMP will remain an important component of this summit series. Specific event dates are forthcoming and will be advertised prior to the events.
As a land-grant institution, outreach is vital to our mission and we are partnering with state agencies to provide targeted education for community leaders, professionals, and laypersons to equip a diverse audience to better understand the crisis, recognize opiate use disorders, and discuss strategies for collaborating within a community and across the state. A prime example of this work is the efforts by Drs. Marlowe, Fox, and Phillippe collaborating with the ADPH to develop an Opioid Overdose Response Plan. This interprofessional response plan for prevention and surveillance for opioid overdose outbreaks in Alabama is intended for use at the local level after the identification of an opioid overdose cluster. Resources for management, including identification of an opioid spike response team including state and local members, of the outbreak were identified and created. If you are interested in registering you or your pharmacy for information about local overdose outbreaks, please explore www.alabamapublichealth.gov/pharmacy/overdose-notification.html.