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Texas State Board of Pharmacy
Newsletter Topics

July 2018

Governor Abbott Names President And Appoints Five To Texas State Board of Pharmacy

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Donald “Donnie” Lewis to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy for a term set to expire on August 31, 2019. Additionally, the Governor appointed Rick Fernandez, Daniel Guerrero, Lori Henke, Pharm.D., and Julie Spier for terms set to expire on August 31, 2023. Also, the Governor named Dennis Wiesner president of the board. The board fosters the provision of quality pharmaceutical care to the citizens of Texas and regulates the practice of pharmacy in accordance with the highest standards of ethics, accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and openness.

Article provided by the Office of the Texas Governor. For more information on the newly appointed Board members, please see the full article by clicking here.

Patient Safety Reminder

Pharmacists have a duty to educate their patients about the effects of medications and the importance of exercising caution when operating vehicles of any type [Board Rule 291.33(c)].

It is important for pharmacists to help patients understand how their medications may influence their ability to perform various activities in and outside of the health care environment. Research from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) related to pilots demonstrates the importance of discussions between health care providers and their patients about the potential risks that drugs can create when patients are operating a vehicle in any mode of transportation. 

Pharmacists must be aware that some patients may be employed in a position that requires them to operate a vehicle or heavy equipment as a part of their job duties. It is important for pharmacists to work with their patients to recognize that a medication may prevent the patients from meeting employment demands for a period of time. Pharmacists should be sure patient education includes content related to the impact of a medication on the patient’s employment, recreational activities, and other aspects of the patient’s life. This is particularly important for patients who may be starting a new medication.

Information to share with patients may be obtained from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration by clicking HERE.

For more information on the NTSB study, please visit the NTSB’s website HERE.


North Carolina Board Launches Public Service Announcement Campaign Concerning the Opioid Crisis

In February 2018, the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy launched an opioid public service announcement campaign on television stations in the Wilmington and Greenville, NC areas and on social media platforms. The advertisements feature Joseph L. Adams, RPh, past president of NABP and former member of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy, sharing his deeply personal story of losing his son to an opioid overdose in 2014. The ads emphasize the importance of obtaining help and the critical role that pharmacists can play.

The ads come in 30-second, 60-second, and six-minute versions and are available for download HERE. Pharmacists are encouraged to use these ads to educate their patients and communities about proper medication use and the dangers of opioid abuse.

In addition, texting “abuse” to 555888, as instructed in the ads, will result in a reply text that provides a link to an NABP-created and hosted page containing resources for pharmacists to share with patients and their communities. That page may be accessed directly HERE.

Article provided by NABP in the April 2018 edition of the NABP State News Roundup.

Just Like You - A Pharmacist's Story of Addiction and Recovery

Editor's Note: This article was coordinated and provided by the Professional Recovery Network (PRN). Please visit the PRN here for resources if you or a pharmacist you know could benefit from PRN's recovery services. 

I’m just like you. I look like you, I think and talk like you, and I am a pharmacist just like you. I grew up in a good family, made all the right decisions in my youth, and was ready to go out and save the world. I graduated pharmacy school some years back, viewing the world and my new career with promise and hope. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those whom I had the privilege and honor to serve as a pharmacist. I had a great new marriage and was ready to start a family. I worked for a large chain and life was going very well for me.
Early in my career, I was an eager new pharmacist. I took pride in providing the best counseling, providing the best recommendations, and trying to serve each patient with the highest standard of pharmaceutical care. I loved my job and it showed to those around me.

But for a certain subset of patients, those with clear dependence to prescription opiates, I was ruthless. I had no mercy for patients who in my eyes were clearly abusing their patient-doctor privilege in order to legally get high. I granted no early fills, had an eagle eye for forged scripts, and I turned a deaf ear to their pleas and requests and excuses. I judged harshly, because, after all, I was the gatekeeper. I took my job seriously in this regard.

Then, one day, an event transpired that would forever alter the course of my life. I was involved in a pretty serious automobile accident. I escaped relatively unharmed, but had some neck and back pain as a result of the wreck. I went to see my physician and received a prescription for a muscle relaxer and some hydrocodone. I learned with that first dose, and over the course of the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours, that this medication made me feel great. It was my first experience with an opiate, and unlike the side effects I counseled countless patients about, this drug actually energized me and I felt more able to do my job as a busy retail pharmacist. After that first prescription was gone, I called my physician back and was granted a refill. Within a couple weeks, the muscle damage from the wreck had healed, but I had a new disease to worry about that, at this point, I was completely unaware of.

Instead of doctor-shopping or writing fake scripts, I began helping myself to the ready supply on the pharmacy shelves. I thought that just a few missing pills would go unnoticed. So I went back to the pill bottle--again and again and again.

The first indication that something was wrong hit me when I attempted to quit taking pills but felt horrible withdrawal effects when I tried to stop. I experienced severe bone pain, churning stomach cramps, diarrhea, sweating, and continuous alternating hot/cold flashes anytime I tried to go more than a day without using. I had a problem with hydrocodone use, and I knew it. I tried everything I could think of to quit taking pills, including self-treating with other medications and alcohol, but nothing I tried did me any good. 

I was offered a new job in a different town. I thought this could be my chance to start fresh and leave the habit I’d picked up behind me. I vowed that I would not continue taking pills in this new pharmacy, but within a matter of only a few days I was right back where I had left off.  Before I knew it, I was taking 100 milligrams of hydrocodone—ten pills, three times a day (a potentially lethal dose for most patients), just to stave off the effects of withdrawals. I was no longer taking pills to feel “high"--I was now taking pills only to feel normal.

Those around me soon began to notice the profound changes that were occurring within the shell of the person I had become. The changes in my physical appearance were staggering.

Over the course of just a few short months, I had lost upwards of fifty pounds off of my previously normal-sized frame. My skin was pale, clammy, and hung loose off of my face. My eyes were sunken and dark, and I experienced frequent bouts of nausea and vomiting. I ate very seldom because the pills destroyed my appetite, and I was often too nauseated to eat anything at all. What little I did manage to eat often came right back up. I was severely malnourished and I was dying a little more each day. Loved ones wondered aloud if I had a chronic illness like leukemia or some other form of cancer and urged me to seek medical attention.

Of course, these pleas fell on deaf ears. I knew exactly what the source of my physical decline was. Toward the end, I began to vomit blood.  

Along with the physical changes, my personality had changed drastically as well. I was irritable, discontent, impatient with loved ones, and would fly off the handle at the smallest little things. I snapped at my spouse and other family members with regularity. I was filled with anxiety and paranoia. During this time, I received multiple calls and other measures of outreach from friends and family members asking me if I was okay and wondering what was wrong with me and if there was anything they could do to help. I managed to shrug each of these well-meant inquiries off. To those who didn’t know me as well, I seemed to have little, if any, personality or character. I was like a ghost. Gone was the spirited, optimistic, bubbly nature that once defined my personality. It was as if all of the life and vigor had just been sucked right out of me. I had lost all interest in the things I once loved to do in my spare time. My personality changes were primarily due to the intense fear I had developed concerning my health, well-being, and future career and relationships.

No one, though, could figure out the source or cause of the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional hell that I was trapped in. Deep within, I knew that I was a drug addict and that there was no hope for me.  I was just like those drug-seeking patients I had come down upon so harshly before, and this realization of my hypocrisy was completely and devastatingly demoralizing. I knew I would eventually get caught and would lose my license, and would go to jail a convicted felon. I knew I would lose my job, my marriage, and my family. I could think of no way out of the very deep and dark hole I had dug for myself.  

One particularly dark day, I knew that I had to do something. Though it had escaped my memory before, on this day I had a period of clarity and I remembered a presentation given by the Professional Recovery Network (PRN) during my fourth year of pharmacy school. I decided that I needed to come clean and admit I had a problem to someone, while I still had an ounce of control over my life left. I wanted to have at least some control over my life and the outcome, before someone else took control for me. So, I picked up the phone and called PRN, and with tears in my eyes and grief in my heart, I self-reported. I told the case manager on the other end of that phone everything I had done and that I wanted help for my addiction and I wanted out of the mess I had created for myself.  

On that day, my world changed for the better. Through the direction and assistance of PRN, I entered inpatient rehabilitation treatment, was able to successfully detox off of the drugs, and began a program of recovery. I left that facility a changed person. PRN stayed in contact with me before, during, and most importantly, after the inpatient rehabilitation phase. They were by my side every step of the way. PRN’s program brought me the support and accountability that I needed to work in this industry while in recovery from substance abuse. PRN gave me the ability to continue working, while giving me the space to develop the tools of recovery I needed. A few months later, I entered into an Agreed Board Order with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy, and PRN was there every step of the way as I navigated that very anxious process.  

Today, just a few years after that first right step of a phone call to the Professional Recovery Network, I am a new person—one who has learned from my past and who is once again hopeful for the future. I remained employed throughout my contract period with PRN and through my probation with TSBP, and have achieved quite a few career goals during that time. Today, my pharmacy license is free and clear of all disciplinary action. I am now in a management position within my company, and the sky is the limit for my career--as long as I don’t lose sight of my past, and where I came from in order to get where I am today. Anything is possible for those who do the right thing; I am living proof of that! I have learned that there is mercy, grace, and redemption within our profession, and I am very thankful for that. I am a walking, talking, breathing success story, and PRN was the one of the biggest reasons for this.

Are you like me, or do you know someone who is? The disease of addiction can happen to anyone. It knows no gender, race, or socioeconomic class. Studies continue to show that a growing number of pharmacists are experiencing the same problems I did. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Be aware of the prevalence and complexity of this problem, and take a bold step to change your life if you are one who is suffering like I was. Take the step to change the life of a peer before the worst happens to him or her. PRN is an incredible organization of folks who just want to help. I felt very supported by them and knew that they always had my best interests in mind. It was especially comforting during my conferences with the state board to have a PRN caseworker sitting right beside me speaking on my behalf about my accomplishments, my compliance with all requirements, and my positive behaviors during my recovery. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that in that time of great worry and stress, they were on my team.  

If you met me today, you would never know that I once suffered from the horrible effects of the disease of addiction, thanks to the diligent work of PRN and their promotion of recovery for pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. I prefer to keep it that way, and so for the purposes of this article, I will remain anonymous. But remember...I’m just like you.

Please visit the PRN here for resources if you or a pharmacist you know could benefit from PRN's recovery services. 


Attend TSBP Board meetings for CE credit
TSBP’s next Board meeting will be held on August 7, 2018. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who attend the full-day meeting in person may be awarded three CE hours. Signing in and out at the meeting will be required for CE credit. The meeting agenda will be available here as the date approaches.

Have you reviewed TSBP’s red flag checklist lately?
Failure of pharmacies and pharmacists to detect patterns of inappropriate dispensing of prescription drugs is unprofessional practice and constitutes grounds for disciplinary action. View our list of red flags here.

Questions? Call our rules hotline.
TSBP staff is available to answer questions regarding pharmacy laws and rules. Please note that staff cannot provide legal advice. You can reach the compliance hotline at 512-305-8070.

Reminder: New Opioid Abuse CE Requirement for Pharmacists

Beginning January 1, 2019, all pharmacists are required to obtain one hour of CE related to opioid abuse. See Board Rule 295.8 for complete pharmacist CE requirements.
Continuing Education (CE) Opportunities with TSBP

The Texas State Board of Pharmacy strives to bring additional learning opportunities to pharmacy professionals as the profession grows. TSBP offers several CE opportunities for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, including live webinars throughout the year, and online courses that can be accessed at any time. Take a look at our CE offerings on our catalog page here.

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Upcoming Events

August 7, 2018
9 am, Board Business Meeting

November 6, 2018
9 am, Board Business Meeting

Board meeting agendas can always be found on our website here as each meeting date approaches and the agenda becomes available.
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