Medication Management Center supports tobacco cessation program
You’ve heard of the State Employee Tobacco Cessation Program, right? That’s the program under which state employees who have Benefit Options medical insurance can get help to stop using tobacco. Under the program, clients may choose to receive telephone counseling and/or medication to help them quit. If they choose medication, guess who helps them? You got it. COP’s Medication Management Center.
In fact, the program’s phone number goes straight to the MMC.
“We work together with ASHline, the telephone counseling service offered by the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health,” says Reginald Roy, coordinator of clinical services for MMC and point man for the center’s tobacco cessation program. “Clients can ask to enroll in ASHline or request a medication to help them quit using tobacco – or both.”
The MMC’s role is larger than you might think and the process is all about the client.
When a call comes in, a specially trained MMC technician enrolls the client in Ashline, if the client chooses. If the client requests medication to help quit using tobacco, the tech gets information that will allow an MMC pharmacist to help the patient pick medications that are right for him or her. Then the tech schedules a time for one of the center’s pharmacists to call the client back.
When the pharmacist returns the client’s call, he or she gathers pertinent information, such as drug allergies, medical history and current condition, including if the client is pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Based on this type of information, the pharmacist recommends a quit-tobacco medication.
Marty Pelger is a pharmacist in the MMC who works with the tobacco cessation program.
“The medications we consider,” says Pelger, “include nicotine replacement gum, nicotine replacement patches and other drugs, taken orally, that block nicotine receptors in the brain or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Many of the stop-tobacco medications recommended by the MMC are available over the counter. However, in order for the cost of the drugs to be covered by Benefit Options, the client must have a prescription.”
Once the pharmacist and client agree on a medication, the pharmacist faxes a request for a prescription for that drug to the client’s prescriber. The prescriber then faxes his/her response back to the center. Ninety-two percent of requests are honored.
When a response is received, the MMC pharmacist lets the client know what the prescriber decided. If the request for medication is approved, the MMC first calls in the prescription to the client’s preferred pharmacy, so that when the pharmacist calls the client, he or she can tell the client that the Rx is ready at the pharmacy.
In addition to prescribing medication, the center’s pharmacist moves the client toward finding a “quit date” on which the client will stop using tobacco. The pharmacist also makes a series of follow-up phone calls to see if the client is experiencing any side effects and if he or she is ready for a lower dosage of medication.
Once a client stops using tobacco, the MMC’s role doesn’t end. Technicians continue to call the client, offering encouragement and support.
Does the program work? Yes, says Roy.
“Since the program began in June 2010,” says Roy, “approximately 222 individuals have contacted MMC. Two hundred of them enrolled in our program, and 40 people, 20 percent, completed medication therapy management – which means they successfully quit using tobacco.”
Pharmacist Pelger emphasizes the benefits of the program.
“Any time you can help someone quit using tobacco, it’s a win-win in a lot of ways,” says Pelger. “Not only does it improve the client’s health, it saves money and makes life better for many people around the client. Overall, it’s just the right thing to do.”
More people may seek help with tobacco cessation soon. A Tobacco Free AHSC policy has been under consideration by the campus community and will be reviewed by the Faculty Senate for possible implementation in the future.
“If that happens,” says Roy, “we’ll be here, ready and able to help people stop using tobacco and lead healthier lives.”