Pharmacists Month Luncheon brings awareness about growing prescription drug problem in Huntington

Pharmaceutical drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States. The number of people abusing prescription drugs has grown each year; Marshall University students and the community are fully aware and are actively trying to solve this issue.

Pharmacy students gathered for the Pharmacist’s Month Luncheon last Friday in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center. The keynote speaker was Kenneth Hale clinical professor in the College of Pharmacy at Ohio State University.

More than 250 people attended the luncheon. All pharmacy students in their first three years were required to be in attendance.

“We need to understand that prescription drugs are becoming the gateway to substance abuse,” Hale said. “And that the incidents of those who are first starting to misuse a substance for prescription are by far the highest number.”

The pharmacists’ code of ethics states a pharmacist will serve individual, community and societal needs. According to Hale, this means pharmacists must be able to help the community by informing them about the medication. If a person is abusing drugs, they need to be informed on why they should not by a local pharmacist.

“We need to understand that prescription drugs are becoming the gateway to substance abuse.”

— Kenneth Hale

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the U.S. In 2014, about 6.5 million people misused prescription drugs.

“We use the most medications on the planet by far. We expect quick fixes,” Hale said.

Only two countries allow prescription drug advertising, the U.S. and New Zealand.

“They do involve different kinds of medications that people might not understand,” Kim Broedel-Zaugg, chair of pharmacy practice and administration said. “It is best for a physician or a pharmacist to decide what medication is best for the individual.”

One issue revolved around the fact West Virginia does not have a Good Samaritan law. A Good Samaritan law will prevent a person from getting into legal trouble after calling emergency services if seeing a person overdosing on drugs.

According to Hale, having a Good Samaritan law makes it easier for those who are having an overdose to receive help.

There have been 34 overdose deaths in Huntington in the first six months of 2015.

“Drug abuse is a big area for us as pharmacists to be able to change patients’ lives and to be able to educate them and our community as a whole,” pharmacy student Rachel Blackburn said.

Matthew Prandoni can be contacted at [email protected].