The University of Findlay is joining more than 70 nonprofit organizations to combat the opioid epidemic via a Cardinal Health Foundation initiative.

The university received a $10,000 Best Practices in Pain Medication Use grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to survey and educate licensed prescribers within Hancock County regarding Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opioid prescription guidelines for chronic pain management.

The goal is to mitigate the opioid epidemic that is plaguing the county and region.

UF’s study and educational outreach will be conducted by College of Pharmacy professors Tim Burkart and Paluri Sai Shantanu Rao. Two undergraduate student researchers will assist them.

“Our focus is to gauge what the prescribers in the community know already about the most up-to-date CDC guidelines,” said Burkart, “and then offer blanket education to everyone we survey. We’ll come back at a later time and re-survey to see if our education provided any sort of impact into their prescribing habits that would hopefully follow the CDC guidelines a bit better.”

The CDC guidelines seek to ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment, and to reduce prescription opioid misuse, abuse and overdose.

Burkart said surveying is expected to begin this month, with the study and educational component ending by the spring 2019 semester. Participation will be voluntary.

Blind data collection will ensure anonymity. Results will be publicly shared, particularly with nonprofit organizations and government agencies that are addressing the epidemic.

If all goes well with this study, Rao said they will use it as a template to expand the effort to opioid prescription providers in surrounding counties.

“We’re hoping to get some data so this can be of value to others as well,” Rao said.

Rao and Burkart said they’re looking forward to collecting results that might make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Burkart is also a practicing pharmacist who works with local law enforcement agencies and the Hancock County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services board on prescription drug issues.

Rao conducts pharmacological research that seeks to better understand the basic science behind opioid addiction.

The grants were made through Cardinal Health Foundation’s Generation RX program and are funded by Cardinal Health’s Opioid Action program, launched in fall 2017.

Funding targets efforts for prevention education, best practices in pain medication use, and community-level responses.

The Opioid Action program is a multi-pronged initiative to help communities in four of the nation’s hardest-hit states fight the opioid epidemic.