It’s now easier to quit smoking in Colorado. People can go to a pharmacy, instead of waiting several days to get in with a provider, to get prescription anti-smoking medications, “People can come into a pharmacy and visit their pharmacist, and through a simple screening process and consultation, they can be subscribed smoking cessation medications,” explains Emily Zadvorny, PharmD, a University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy faculty member and Executive Director of the Colorado Pharmacists Society.
Dr. Zadvorny and CU Pharmacy faculty member Gina Moore, PharmD, were both very involved in advocating for legislation to create statewide protocols. Last year a protocol allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception went into effect. Both protocols are possible through a 2016 state law that allowed the state Health Department, along with the state boards of medicine, pharmacy, and nursing, to expand access to commonly used medications.
Smoking cessation is the latest protocol to go into effect, “Not only can they get the usual over the counter therapies, which have always been available, but pharmacists can now prescribe any of the FDA approved medications for smoking cessation,” adds Dr. Zadvorny.
That includes things like nasal sprays, inhalers, and oral medications.
Pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare providers so it makes sense to have smoking cessation available at pharmacies, “If someone wants to quit smoking we want them to be able to do that as soon as possible,” Dr. Zadvorny says. “Pharmacists are embedded in all the communities throughout our state, were open nights, weekends, holidays, and there’s no appointment necessary.”
To be able to prescribe anti-smoking medications, pharmacists must have a doctorate degree or at least five years of experience, and they must go through a three hour online training, “It’s very comprehensive, it goes through the etiology and what it is to be a smoker, and then it goes through all the science and pharmacology of the medications that we use, and then it goes through the business aspects and how to work this service into your busy pharmacy, and finally it goes through what the protocol in Colorado entails and how to follow it.” Explains Dr. Zadvorny.
CU Pharmacy offers the training through our Continuing Education Program.
Dr. Zadvorny adds, “Something else that is important about our protocol is that it’s collaborative. When a patient receives services, then we automatically refer them to the Colorado Quitline for follow up.”
The protocol also requires that pharmacists contact a patient’s primary care provider for follow up on services that were provided and if they don’t have one it’s an opportunity to get them into the healthcare system.