<p>Given a community need to address abuse and overdoses of prescription opioids, experts from Brown University and community partners will provide a morning of continuing medical education for prescribers and pharmacists at the Alpert Medical School June 7.</p>

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Prescribers and pharmacists have a big role to play in preventing drug diversion — the urgent problem of prescription opioids becoming abused, often by people to whom they weren’t dispensed. On Saturday, June 7, at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners, and other health care professionals will have the opportunity to learn specific strategies to prevent drug diversion.

The Prescription Diversion Summit, provided by Brown’s Office of Continuing Medical Education and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), will focus squarely on what health professionals can legitimately do to treat pain while reducing the flow of drugs into illicit use.

“Opioid abuse is a multifactorial issue, and the summit provides an opportunity for all of us involved — from physicians to dentists to pharmacists to law enforcement — to learn together about best practices,” said Dr.Jack A. Elias, dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown. “For the medical school, it’s particularly important that we pass this information on as we teach our medical students and residents about responsible prescribing and monitoring.”

Concerned by rising rate of opioid addiction and overdose deaths in Rhode Island and around the country, Peter Neronha, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island, convened representatives not only from Brown and RIDOH, but also from the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, the Rhode Island Medical Society, and the Justice Department’s Drug Enforcement Agency to collaborate on way to address drug diversion.

The group decided that Brown’s continuing medical education program provides a natural means of helping the state’s health care professionals better understand the role they can play, said Maria Sullivan, Brown’s CME director.

“We often partner with health care organizations, specialty medical societies, and other community groups in developing educational programs that contribute to quality health care,” Sullivan said. “Our program is very robust.”

Last year, for example, Brown CME sponsored about 60 live events and 50 web-based seminars for more than 7,000 attendees including about 2,400 physicians.

‘The Practioner’s Toolbox’

The resulting summit, scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 12:40 p.m., will provide prescribers with many opportunities to ask questions and share their own experiences with the phenomenon, Sullivan said.

“There are all kinds of online education, but the feeling was let’s bring these people together in one forum and have a conversation — you know, give them information but also the opportunity to chime in and ask questions,” Sullivan said.

The summit will be archived online for prescribers who can’t attend the live event.

Speakers will start the morning with an overview of the epidemic and its scale in Rhode Island and will describe some of the theory behind it. They will also provide vivid examples of the means and behaviors people employ to get pills they shouldn’t, ranging from outright theft to “doctor shopping” in search of trusting or willing prescribers.

Most of the morning is dedicated to presenting “The Practitioner’s Toolbox,” a set of best practices prescribers can begin using immediately. They can sign up after a seminar on RIDOH’s Prescription Monitoring Program, which can track a patient’s history of controlled substance prescriptions.

More elements of the toolkit will then follow including talks on alternative pain treatments; how much and which of the drugs to prescribe when necessary; advice to give patients about responsible use, storage, and disposal of the drugs; and how to spot and deal with addictive behavior in patients.

The summit will take place at the Warren Alpert Medical School building at 222 Richmond Street. Attendance requires registration and a $40 fee that includes materials, breakfast, and parking.