The surge in overdoses and deaths due to opioid abuse has become a public health crisis, and recent research suggests that the epidemic may grow even worse if current trajectories continue. At the Feik School of Pharmacy (FSOP), Dr. Lucy Wilkening, assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice, and select students are working to combat the crisis through education and interventions. With the support of FSOP and its dean, Dr. David Maize, Wilkening has integrated overdose education and naloxone distribution training into the school’s required laboratory series. FSOP is now in its third year of certifying all students through this critical training.

What’s more, Wilkening is also active in researching and implementing, harm reduction measures and applications in the pharmacy setting, as well as sharing her expertise on the pharmacotherapy of opioid use disorder. Students will play an important role in the success of this endeavor when they put harm reduction measures into practice and hopefully, influence the way communities, government and agencies approach the opioid epidemic.

“I currently have two research students who are seeking publication of their work on harm reduction utilization in Bexar County community pharmacies,” said Wilkening. “Additionally, I have had several students and (now) alumni assist me in working with the city in establishing legislation for a syringe service program in Bexar County.”

While much work in this field is yet to be done, FSOP students and faculty are leading the way to a future of more compassionate care across agencies and, hopefully, a healthier future for those seeking help.