MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The rising concerns of Fentanyl abuse among other opioids is changing the way pharmacy technicians prepare to enter the medical profession.

Students at Pima Medical Institute’s Mesa Campus are taught how to analyze a patient’s electronic record to make sure people aren’t abusing controlled substances, but now that scrutiny is being taken a step further.

“We’re training our students to keep an eye on how bad it’s really getting,” said Monica Olivas, lead pharmacy instructor.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Fentanyl Epidemic]

With opioid overdose deaths up nearly 270% the last two years in Arizona, Pima Medical Institute believes it needs to be proactive about updating its curriculum to help fight the dangerous epidemic.

Zachary Bibbins, 18, has experienced the problem first hand.

“I’ve had family members that have overdosed from some very hard narcotics,” Bibbins said.

The school believes training its future pharmacy technicians to spot warning signs of potential abusers trying to fill prescriptions are an important part of fighting the epidemic.

“I would say 99.9% important because they are the ones giving out the drug, prescribing the drug and being more efficient in what to give and how much to give,” said Bibbins.

According to Olivas, electronic prescription scripts are hard to fake yet somehow some people are still getting their hands on more pills than they’re supposed to. The school says it’s teaching students to look for other clues of abuse.

“Has the medication been filled previously, is it too soon of a refill, maybe they’re using a different name or different physician jumping doctor to doctor. If you see a patient continuously coming in, they can alert the pharmacist,” she said.

With just days left in the program, Bibbins says he’s ready to be on the front lines of this important fight.

“It’s not only my duty but my passion. For us to step in and help out more will have a lot more fraud come down,” said Bibbins.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



Recommended for you

(3) comments


There is mo fentanyl abuse that affects pharmacy technicians. No one is getting fentanyl from the store. Illicit fentanyl analogues are made by drug cartels. They are cut with heroin and pressed into pills. Techicians are taught about pharmaceutical opioids, not illicit street drugs.


Mr. Beatty - You could not be more accurate. This whole "opioid epidemic" is just a knee jerk reaction by a panicky populace that is not sophisticated enough to think for themselves, draw distinctions and engage in personal responsibility. As a result people who legitimately need pain management medications are made to suffer.


Thank you for your great words here.I am a real chronic pain person and am collateral damage of the opiate crisis.I have been able to be part of my family and help others for years and now it has been taken away cause of bad media and government that don't understand or know the truths or just don't care.The CDC reports were falsified and need redone and the
truth in all ways told.I
understand there is 40 a day committing suicide of chronic pain people.The fentanyl article was a joke.They even go on what the equivalent of morphine and morphine really is way stronger on me than fentanyl so it looks like I take a real higher dose of fentanyl than what I would morphine.One size can not fit ALL.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.