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Lisa W. Goldstone, MS, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP
Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy/Associate Director of Residency Programs
University of Southern California School of Pharmacy
Los Angeles, CA

Psychiatric pharmacists already play an important role in the care of persons with mental health and substance use disorders (MHSUD). Due to the growing behavioral health needs of our nation which are partly fueled by the opioid epidemic or crisis, it is critical that all pharmacists are participating in the care of persons with MHSUD. Over this past summer, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) began developing a white paper on the topic of optimizing the role of pharmacists in the care of persons with MHSUD. Members of CPNP were invited by SAMHSA to participate in the process through a variety of roles including meeting facilitation, authoring the paper, and providing feedback and ideas.

A meeting was held on July 31, 2017 at the SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. Meeting attendees included representatives from pharmacy organizations who are members or affiliate members of the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners (JCPP). SAMHSA, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Public Health Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Health Resources & Service Administration (HRSA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs were also represented. CPNP members in attendance included Carla Cobb, Megan Ehret, and Ray Love. I had the opportunity to serve as the meeting facilitator. The meeting began with a review of the initial draft of the white paper. The remainder of the meeting was devoted to short presentations related to the paper followed by small and large group discussions. CPNP members Sarah Melton and Jerry McKee and past Annual Meeting speaker Troy Trygstad joined via teleconference to present on current practices. CPNP Curriculum Task Force member and AACP Associate Executive Vice President Ruth Nemire provided an overview of the results from the CPNP curriculum paper. Ray Love and Lisa Goldstone also presented on topics relevant to the meeting and draft white paper.

“The meeting had fruitful discussion surrounding the many roles that pharmacists play in the treatment of patients with mental illness and substance use disorders. It was exciting to have so many organizations around the table discussing the unique roles that pharmacists from all different practice settings have in advancing the treatment of mental illness” stated Megan Ehret. Carla Cobb further commented that “the meeting allowed stakeholders from many practice settings to proudly discuss the contribution of pharmacists to the care of people with mental illness and substance use disorders.”

The draft white paper was revised based upon the feedback provided from this meeting and was later presented at a second meeting held on September 12, 2017. This meeting consisted of a smaller group of pharmacists who had attended the first meeting including Ray Love and myself, once again serving in a facilitator role. A pharmacist from the National Institute of Health, psychiatrists, a nurse, and other representatives from the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the U.S. Coast Guard were also in attendance. A similar format to the first meeting was used with emphasis on gathering feedback from the non-pharmacists in the group.

CPNP members will continue to be involved in this process as the paper is revised to incorporate the feedback obtained from other behavioral health providers as well as pharmacy leaders. We look forward to sharing the paper with you upon its conclusion. As Carla Cobb stated, “it’s rewarding to see CPNP gain recognition from a federal agency to help further our mission.”

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