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Convening Healthcare Stakeholders to Address the Opioid Epidemic

Posted by John E. Parker

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Last week, Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) partners, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) and the PA Foundation, joined HDA at the Distribution Management Conference and Expo (DMC) for a discussion about how we are working together to educate and raise awareness about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids.

HDA founded AAOA as an educational initiative to help prevent the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. The goal of AAOA was, and still is, to contribute to solving the opioid abuse epidemic in a meaningful way by serving as a centralized information resource and working with partners across healthcare and public health to raise awareness about prescription opioid safety.

In its first year, AAOA has made great strides through the development of new tools and resources as well as national programs to engage specific audiences, such as PA students and community pharmacists.

At this year’s DMC, I was joined by NCPA’s Vice President of Pharmacy Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Ronna Hauser, and the PA Foundation’s Executive Director, Lynette Sappe-Watkins, to share lessons learned and actionable steps others can take to help combat the opioid abuse epidemic.

During the panel discussion, Ms. Hauser of NCPA shared how pharmacists across the country are making a difference in their communities through patient interactions as well as more systemic efforts like disposal programs. The pharmacy toolkit that AAOA developed in partnership with NCPA and the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) is helping pharmacists engage their patients, and educate them about the safe use, storage and disposal of prescription opioids.

Ms. Sappe-Watkins of the PA Foundation discussed how physician assistant students have embraced AAOA’s Pledge to Pause campaign, with thousands of PAs pledging to take time to talk to patients and caregivers about available treatment options, the risks associated with prescription opioids and their responsibility to safely store and appropriately dispose of leftover medications before prescribing pain medicines. PA student leaders have not only taken the pledge themselves but are encouraging their peers on campus to do the same. Pledge to Pause has grown from a conference activation to a grassroots push among engaged and active PA students.

These two programs build on AAOA’s mission of bringing together diverse stakeholders across the healthcare community to address the prescription opioid epidemic through education. We would not have been able to make this kind of an impact without our partners’ strategic input, subject matter expertise and strong network. Their ideas have helped to shape AAOA and we have all benefited from this collaboration.

We look forward to continuing to build on this valuable foundation in AAOA’s second year. Together, we can make a difference in helping prevent prescription opioid abuse and misuse.

To learn more about AAOA, visit and follow @AAOA_Tweets on Twitter. For more information on AAOA’s progress in its first year, read our "Year in Review" report.


Allied Against Opioid Abuse is a national education and awareness initiative to help prevent abuse and misuse of prescription opioids. Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, the initiative is a collaborative effort with diverse partners across the pharmaceutical supply chain, as well as organizations that are experts in public health and healthcare, including ADvancing States, Alliance for Aging Research, American Pharmacists Association, American Physical Therapy Association, BeMedWise, Caregiver Action Network, Gerontological Society of America, Healthcare Leadership Council, HealthyWomen, Men’s Health Network, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration, National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Consumers League, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Transitions of Care Coalition, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the PA Foundation. Our goal is to contribute to solving the opioid crisis in a meaningful way by educating patients about their rights, risks and responsibilities. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter: @AAOA_Tweets.


The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) represents primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide. Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. The HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s nonprofit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.


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