For the past three years, they have won “best overall” for helping combat the opioid epidemic.
The college’s APhA-ASP chapter, which includes the Generation Rx committee, earned second-runner up for Chapter Achievement, and two third-year students earned spots on APhA-ASP National Standing Committees, of which there are only 25 spots nationwide.
Augustine Bui, from Baldwin Park, California, serves on the communication committee, and Lauren Dickerson, Chattanooga, serves on the policy committee.
“Our Generation Rx committee continues to make a national impact on the opioid epidemic, and it shows that Gatton students truly have what it takes not only to compete but win on the national level,” Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of the Gatton College of Pharmacy, said in a news release.
Generation Rx is a national organization with affiliated committees located at pharmacy schools all over the country. The aim of the organization is to target prescription drug abuse through public education and training programs.
“It’s about having that security that I could go into a gas station or a library, and if I see someone who has overdosed, I could pull my naloxone out of my purse, administer it intranasally and save a life,” said Dr. Sarah Melton, a professor of pharmacy practice who leads overdose training efforts at Gatton College of Pharmacy.
Since 2015, ETSU’s Generation Rx committee has remained focused on educating others about the dangers of prescription drugs, which caused 1,268 overdose deaths in Tennessee in 2017.
Generation Rx began its overdose prevention campaign across the state line by delivering Virginia’s REVIVE! opioid overdose training. Melton and pharmacy student volunteers personally invite RAM clinic attendees to join these short training sessions, which are also held at the RAM clinics in Gray.
“About 75 percent come over to our training because they have a family member or friend who has been impacted by the epidemic,” she said.
Melton estimates that Generation Rx has trained more than 15,000 people through RAM clinics, community events, education programs and other events.
During the training, participants learn how to identify causes and risk factors for opioid overdose, discuss common myths about overdose reversal and learn how to administer naloxone. Generation Rx has since presented “Volunteer to Save a Life” at other pharmacy schools across the state and developed continuing medical education materials for health care teams and first responders.
Melton, a psychiatric pharmacist, was also honored with the Generation Rx Award of Excellence in 2017. For years, she has been an advocate for reducing stigma and promoting evidence-based, medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.
“I’ve worked with patients with addiction and opioid abuse disorders. Before I came to ETSU, I was working at a clinic in rural Virginia, and it was very prevalent. It became my passion to see that they got the care they needed,” she said.
Melton and her group of students are branching out and looking at ways to prevent heroin and fentanyl use as prescription opioids become increasingly harder to find.
Learn more about the Gatton College of Pharmacy at www.etsu.edu/pharmacy.