NC DHHS Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee
by Caroline Griswold, NCAPA Program Cooridnator
On Thursday, March 5th, NCAPA staff attended the quarterly NC DHHS Opioid and Prescription Drug Abuse Advisory Committee meeting at NC State University. The meeting brought together professionals from a variety of areas, including healthcare, criminal justice, and pharmaceuticals, with a goal of informing participants on developments in the fight against the opioid epidemic in North Carolina.
Elyse Powell, the State Opioid Coordinator for the NC DHHS, presented information on the overall downward trend in the prescription of opioids over the last three years, and the increase in overdose reversal by first-responders. Following Ms. Powell was Dr. Victoria Soltis-Jarrett from UNC’s School of Nursing. Dr. Soltis-Jarrett focused on a recent initiative from the CDC called the Quality Improvement and Coordinated Care Project. The project seeks to bridge the coverage gap for rural North Carolinians experiencing chronic pain, substance addiction, and/or psychiatric needs.
Dr. Blake Fagan and Dr. Shuchin Shukla from the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) presented information on their free MAT training program. In the first two years of the program, the training has resulted in an additional 1,500 providers becoming MAT certified. The doctors hope to provide the training to all PA, NP, and medical doctorate programs in North Carolina.
Stella Bailey from the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program presented updates on the North Carolina Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS). As of the beginning of March, the CSRS is now able to report on prescriber data in addition to patient-level data. Prescribers will be able to see how their rates of opioid prescribing compare to those of other healthcare providers in their area.
The final presentations came from Shannon Bullock with Safe Kids NC and Franklin Walker from the North Carolina Medical Society. Ms. Bullock was happy to report that Operation Medicine Drop*, a program that allows for the safe disposal of medication, has resulted in the removal of over 206 million pills. Mr. Walker then described the current initiative within the NCMS called Project OBOT: Office Based Opioid Treatment. The project seeks to improve and increase access to care for all North Carolinians by training primary care providers to become MAT certified. Through the establishment of research based, data driven pilots, Project OBOT provides increased patient access by using a care-specific platform for Opioid treatment and recovery.
*More information about Operation Medicine Drop, as well as hosting your own Safe Drop location, can be found at the Safe Kids North Carolina website.
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