In a continued effort to educate store guests and prevent accidental prescription opioid overdoses, SpartanNash says it is expanding its Opioid Safety Project to each of its 61 Michigan pharmacies. SpartanNash was the first major grocery retailer in Michigan to offer this kind of program and expand it throughout the state, with participating pharmacies located in its D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets, Forest Hills Foods and VG’s stores.
The Opioid Safety Project aims to reduce prescription drug overdoses by providing patients who visit SpartanNash pharmacies with naloxone—a life-saving medication used to reverse the deadly effects of opioid overdose—and education on how to identify, prevent and reverse an accidental opioid overdose.
“Our Opioid Safety Project places a special emphasis on education,” said Eddie Garcia, SpartanNash’s director of pharmacy merchandising. “Before our store guests take their prescriptions home with them, our pharmacists spend time with them and their caregivers to ensure they understand how to properly take their medications and when naloxone would be needed. We never want our store guests to have to use the naloxone, but we want them to be informed on how to properly administer it in the case of an emergency.”
The week of March 12-18 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week, and SpartanNash says it encourages store guests to be an active part of their own healthcare team by staying informed and involved in their own care and discussing their concerns with their pharmacist and other healthcare providers.
When a store guest fills an opioid prescription from any physician, they are counseled by the SpartanNash pharmacist on safe medication use. If they are interested in an overdose reversal kit, they also are educated on how to properly use the naloxone should the need arise.
The overdose reversal kit includes naloxone, a face shield for rescue breathing and an information pamphlet on the symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to give naloxone. The kit also contains an anonymous “Overdose reversal response card,” which encourages the patient or caregiver to provide feedback upon use of the kit.
“Often, prescription overdoses are not intentional, but rather an adult who forgets they’ve taken their prescribed medication and takes a second dose or is caused by a drug interaction or other health conditions,” said Garcia. “By providing store guests and their caregivers with the necessary tools and knowledge to avoid a prescription opioid overdose, we hope to reduce the number of overdoses as well as get the lifesaving medication in their hands in case of emergency.”
In December, the company received its first reply card from one of the overdose kits – indicating the naloxone had been used to save a life. The anonymous card provided details of the accidental overdose from a prescription opioid with a note that read, “This (naloxone) should be given out to every home with RX opiates to prevent accidental overdose. It saves lives!”
“It was a very exciting moment for the SpartanNash pharmacy department to receive that note,” said Garcia. “We know this is the reality; accidental overdoses happen more often than many are aware. Seeing that card and knowing the hard work—of educating our pharmacists on opioid safety and naloxone and their efforts, in turn, to educate their patients—has resulted in a life saved is priceless.”
In order to expand the program to 61 pharmacies, SpartanNash pharmacists completed an online training program from Prescribe to Prevent, in addition to attending live training sessions led by the company’s clinical care team.
The Opioid Safety Project began in April 2016 as a pilot program at three SpartanNash pharmacies in West Michigan before it was expanded to all D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets and Forest Hills Foods pharmacies in the greater Grand Rapids and Lakeshore area in November. Last year, SpartanNash pharmacists dispensed 85 overdose reversal kits.
To participate in the statewide initiative, SpartanNash has partnered with Dr. Sandra Dettmann of the Dettmann Center. The Grand Rapids-based addiction medicine physician authorizes all 61 of SpartanNash’s Michigan pharmacies to dispense the safety kit and naloxone medication to patients.