In April 2018 the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) partnered with Murphy Media, Kanawha Communities That Care, and Kanawha County Schools to deliver a medication safety pilot program to pre-kindergarten classes throughout Kanawha County. During the week of April 9, 2018, UCSOP student pharmacists and assistant dean, Dr. Susan Gardner Bissett presented to seven pre-kindergarten classrooms in five Kanawha County schools.
Similar to UCSOP’s involvement with Generation Rx – an evidence-based medication safety and prevention curriculum UCSOP student pharmacists have been delivering to Kanawha County third-graders – the program aims to teach pre-k students about medication safety including how to properly store medication and dispose of prescriptions (with the help of a trusted adult). The pre-K program will also include the use of an interactive, educational platform.
Using a character developed by Murphy Media, Rex™ the Rx, student pharmacists taled to the children about medication safety using an educational coloring book designed to demonstrate three easy curriculum objectives: Cap Him, Know Him, and Throw Him. Rex™ is a live-action, real time generated avatar (a pill bottle) operated by face recognition in a live streaming platform. This innovative approach to educating students about the dangers of misusing prescription medications provides opportunities for both in classroom and distance education. In addition to the presentation and interactive media, UCSOP will be provided school counselors with an allotment of medication disposal systems. A letter was sent home to parents informing them of this resource.
“In March 2018, a study published in the journal, Pediatrics indicated that the annual rate of hospitalizations for opioid poisonings in children doubled between 2004 and 2015,” explained Dr. Susan Gardner Bissett, UCSOP assistant dean for professional and student affairs. “Additionally, we know that the average age of prescription or illicit drug (mis)use is between nine and twelve years old. This makes early education about medication safety so important—especially in West Virginia where we are ground zero for the nation’s opioid epidemic.”
“An alarming amount of WV preschoolers were born with neo-natal abstinence syndrome as a result of being exposed to drugs in the womb. Many more are living with addicted parents and an even higher number are living with aging grandparents giving them unprecedented access to prescription drugs,” said Joe Murphy, CEO of Murphy Media. “Reaching young children before they normalize addiction and drug use is essential. A healthy home, for the most part, should have an empty medicine cabinet. Rex™ is no one you’d want to have hanging around in your home for long.”
UCSOP Involvement in Prevention Education
In an attempt to reverse the rapid increase of drug abuse in our region, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) partnered with Kanawha County Schools (KCS) and Kanawha Communities that Care (KCTC) to implement a prescription abuse prevention initiative using Generation Rx. First and second year pharmacy students are trained by peer-leaders and faculty to deliver Generation Rx Programming to elementary students throughout Kanawha County (West Virginia). This training is embedded in UCSOP’s first and second year curriculum and supported by the school’s chapters of the Association of Student Pharmacists-APhA and Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacists.
About Generation Rx:
Generation Rx is an evidence-based program developed in collaboration of The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, the Cardinal Health Foundation, and the American Pharmacists Association. The program is designed to increase public awareness of prescription drug abuse and better equip children, youth, teens, and adults to address and actively prevent prescription drug misuse.
In October of 2016, USOP, KCS and KCTC launched a pilot project in six elementary schools throughout Kanawha County. Using Generation Rx materials, the program focused on educating 219 students in 12 fifth grade classrooms on the issue of prescription medication use and abuse. Four to five UCSOP first year pharmacy students worked closely with school counselors to lead two classroom sessions lasting between 30 and 40 minutes. Pre- and post-assessments were administered to every student to assess the level of knowledge gained from the program. In February 2017, second year pharmacy students returned to the same classrooms to educate the students on proper medication disposal and safe medication use (including proper use of inhalers). As a result of the February prevention education, over 200 medication disposal systems were sent home with each of the fifth-graders with educational materials to share with their parents.
Program assessment and evaluation data indicated that fifth grade may in fact be too late to address the issues related to prescription misuse and medication safety. Members of the three organizations, worked together to redesign the program allowing the curriculum to be delivered to 25 third grade classrooms (over 425 students) in 12 schools throughout the county during October 2017. Again, first year pharmacy students from UCSOP delivered the program in two classroom sessions lasting 30-40 minutes. Second year pharmacy students will return to those classrooms in February 2018 to discuss proper medication disposal and safe medication use. Plans for distribution of medication disposal bags (medication disposal system or MDS) include making them available at school PTA meetings and through the school nurses at each elementary location.