UA College of Pharmacy developing tool to ID people at risk of o - Tucson News Now

UA College of Pharmacy developing tool to ID people at risk of opioid abuse

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)

Jenny Lo-Ciganic, an assistant professor with the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy is developing a tool to help identify patients who are at risk of prescription opioid abuse. 

She received a $100,000 grant from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America or PhRMA Foundation.

This new tool will take factors such as a patient's medical and mental health history and figure out their risk of addiction. The data will also help researcher figure out what areas are having problems with opioid abuse. 

This information will help communities focus on areas that need the most intervention. 

"Based on the patient's history of the use of medication. Hopefully we can identify some prediction tools that will be more efficiently identify those people and taking all the information into account," Lo-Ciganic said. 

She compares the new tool to websites like Amazon.com and its ability to recommend products based on your shopping history. 

Lo-Ciganic said this information could be useful to doctors but also be a tool to help pharmacists keep an eye on their patients.

"Before the pharmacies dispense the prescription opioids, they might be able to know this patient has a high risk and need additional follow-up or monitoring," Lo-Ciganic said. 

This type of technology could help people like Jeremiah Hoke. 

Hoke said his life changed when he was prescribed medication following an accident 15 years ago. 

A prescription for hydrocodone to ease the pain spiraled into more than a decade of addiction. 

"I started out on painkillers the doctor prescribed," Hoke said. "I ended up smoking Oxycontin and then Oxycontin wasn't strong enough and heroin was cheaper, so I moved on to heroin." 

The addition stripped him his job, family and home.

When asked if he would have ever imagined that he would find himself in a situation like this, he replied, "No...stuff that I would have never, ever, ever thought of doing in my life, I've done and I'm not proud of it." 

Hoke said he wouldn't have taken the painkillers if he knew this would happen. 

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