The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board has awarded grants to state pharmacy associations in three states to support medication safety projects, the role of pharmacy technicians and to address the opioid abuse crisis.
Pharmacy associations in Arizona, Connecticut, and Massachusetts received the grants, which total $26,000 and will fund technician training in the use and benefits of using naloxone to counter overdoses, as well as in processes to monitor prescriptions, track high-alert medications and related duties.
The Arizona Pharmacists Association received a grant to establish an opioid and controlled substance diversion prevention training program for pharmacy technicians. The goal of AzPA's Ensuring Access to Naloxone Project is to reduce opioid-related deaths by increasing access to naloxone, according to AzPA CEO Kelly Fine.
"Educating technicians about the benefits of naloxone is the next critical step in decreasing deaths from the opioid epidemic," Fine said. "Pharmacy technicians are often the first line of communication with patients. The public benefits when technicians play a bigger role in recognizing opioid abuse and recommending naloxone to patients," said Fine.
In addition to the training program, AzPA's project includes the development of a legislative roadmap and model language for state-level rulemaking to allow technicians to dispense naloxone. Only one state, Idaho, currently permits technicians to deliver the treatment. "We hope our project will create national momentum and remove barriers so this vital service can expand across the country," said Fine.
PTCB awarded funding to the Connecticut Pharmacists Association to create an accredited, online education module to train technicians in all pharmacy settings to access and report on patient records found in the Connecticut Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System. The CPA course will meet requirements for CPMRS technician training under a new state law to address opioid abuse that took effect in October. Technicians who complete the training will be qualified to consult the CPMRS to check patient records under the supervision of a pharmacist preparing to dispense a controlled substance prescription.
The webinar training platform will be available for other state pharmacy associations to offer their members. "The training enhances patient safety and, at the same time, offers technicians an opportunity to advance on their own career paths," said Nathan Tinker, CPA CEO. "Pharmacy technicians aspire to undertake more advanced roles. Advancing their role in this critical area will further allow pharmacists' roles to expand to take on more clinical functions."
The Massachusetts Pharmacists Association's grant will fund a webinar series on key safety topics for technicians, such as the medication-use process, medication tracers, high-alert medications that require safeguards, pharmacy audits, and error identification. "Education is fundamental to a culture of safety, and the avoidance of medication errors and patient harm," said MPhA executive vice president Lindsay De Santis. "This program will serve as a consolidated source of pertinent, high-value information for today's technicians. It is critical that technicians be confident and prepared as their roles evolve to include greater patient interactions and operational responsibilities."
"PTCB is focused on advancing medication and patient safety by credentialing pharmacy technicians who are qualified to support pharmacists in all practice settings," said Ryan Burke, PTCB director of professional affairs. "We also support building a sustainable career ladder for technicians. We applaud these state association initiatives intended to enhance safety and combat the opioid crisis by advancing technicians."