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.
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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.