BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State University has created a new training program to teach pharmacists how to spot patients at risk of abusing opioids, as well as increase the number of prescriptions pharmacists write for overdose treatments.

The university's School of Pharmacy unveiled the program called ONERx on Wednesday in hopes of combating opioid abuse in the state, the Bismarck Tribune reported .

"None of us are out of the reach of this (opioid) epidemic," said professor Mark Strand. "We need all hands on deck in North Dakota to address this problem."

ONERx provides training to pharmacists on a tool to assess risk for opioid abuse among patients. The program also teaches the science behind addiction and provides pharmacists with a list of addiction treatment services to which they can refer patients. It also educates them about naloxone, which is often sold as Narcan and can counter the effects of opioid overdose.

The program was developed through a more than $150,000 grant from the state Department of Human Services, the Alex Stern Family Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem commended the program, which is supported by the state Board of Pharmacy and the state Pharmacists Association.

"The feeder system for the heroin problem and the fentanyl problem in North Dakota is the opioid prescription, because we know about 80 percent of people who become addicted to heroin started out with prescription medications," Stenehjem said. "We have a long ways to go, we have a lot to do, but I'm very pleased that the pharmacists of North Dakota are stepping up to the plate."

ONERx training will be offered in Fargo, Bismarck and Minot in October.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune,