Pharmacy Law – A Focus on Opioid Prescriptions- Pharmacist




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From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people died in the United States from a drug overdose. About 400,000 of these deaths involved both prescription and illicit opioids (eg, heroin); 218,000 deaths involved prescription opioids. In 2017 alone, there were more than 70,000 overdose deaths, with nearly 70% involving opioids. This was a 10% increase from 2016, when there were 63,632 overdose deaths and two-thirds involved opioids. The current rise in opioid overdose deaths can be described in three distinct phases. The first phase began in 1999 following an increase in the prescribing of opioids during the 1990s, due in part to a new, patient-centered focus on relieving pain as the 5th vital sign. The second phase began in 2010, with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin. The third phase began in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (eg, tramadol, fentanyl), especially illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Although the opioid overdose epidemic has evolved and worsened in recent years, provisional data from 2018 indicates potential improvements in some overdose indicators. However, a final analysis will be necessary to confirm this change. Since 2012, opioid prescribing rates have declined, suggesting that prescribers have become more cautious in their prescribing practices. However, prescriptions for opioids continue to contribute to the epidemic, with more than 35% of all opioid overdose deaths specifically involving prescription opioids. Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for illicit drug abuse, such as with heroin or fentanyl. Evidence suggests that most individuals became addicted to illicit opioids after using prescription opioids...


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Course Information

Target Audience


Kimberly Burns
Knowledge Level

General Overview

This activity will apply to a broad range of learning needs/pharmacy settings. It may include common disease state/therapy overivews and/or general pharmacy needs such as medication errors, immunizations, or law topics.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the Corresponding Responsibility Doctrine; determine if a prescription is valid and identify “red flags” that should raise reasonable suspicion of a prescription’s validity.
  • Summarize current laws and guidelines that are in place to limit the duration and dosing of opioid prescriptions. Discuss the importance of morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) for commonly prescribed opioids.
  • Provide examples of effective communication with patients and prescribers that helps ensure that prescriptions are being used safely and lawfully.

Course Accreditation

  • Activity Type:
  • CE Broker
  • Universal Activity Number:
    Pharmacist : 0798-0000-21-205-H03-P
PharmCon is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education as a provider of continuing pharmacy education.

PharmCon, Inc. is an approved course provider for continuing education for nurses by the Florida Board of Nursing. PharmCon is also recognized by the California Board of Nursing as a provider of nursing programs.

Credit for this program is issued by passing the final test hosted at with a score of 70% or higher.

Technology Requirements

  • Hardware Requirements
    Standard Windows/Mac System
    iPad or iPhone
    Minimum screen resolution: 1024x768
  • Software Requirements
    Standard Windows/Mac System
    iPad or iPhone
    Minimum screen resolution: 1024x768
  • Network Requirements
    Broadband Internet Connection:
    T1, Hi-speed DSL or Cable
    4G cellular connection
Computer sharing is NOT permitted due to accreditation guidelines on activity monitoring. Credit is earned by one user per device.