With drug overdoses and addiction on the rise since the start of the pandemic, opioid awareness and safety is more imperative than ever.
We spoke to Camille Schrier and pharmacist Dan Schneider, who you may have seen in Netflix’s “The Pharmacist.”
What does pharmacovigilance mean to you?
Dan Schneider: Of course, pharmacovigilance refers to drug safety, potential drug interactions, and prevention of adverse effects. To me, I think of the pharmacist as a gatekeeper that must be vigilant in warning about addiction and overdose, alerting to potential diversion, alerting to unscrupulous doctors, and yet showing empathy and care while informing the patient.
How did you balance being Miss America 2020 with being a pharmacy graduate student? What inspired you to go to pharmacy school?
Camille Schrier: Miss America is a full-time position, which gave me the opportunity to take time away from my education and focus on my advocacy for medication safety and abuse prevention. I chose to attend pharmacy school with the intent to pursue a career in business development in a pharmaceutical company, which is still my goal after graduation.
Can you speak to your passion for drug safety and becoming an advocate?
CS: Carrying Narcan is something I am passionate about because it gives each of us the ability to actively help someone experiencing an overdose before EMTs arrive. The difference in response time of just a few minutes for a patient experiencing an opioid overdose could make a drastic impact on their outcome and recovery.
DS: My passion concerning drug safety comes from losing my son because of addiction. Sadly, I couldn’t save my son, but I have been determined to use that wisdom and advocacy to prevent other families from suffering such a tragedy. I have seen his face in those that I have had concerns for.
How important is it in 2021, given the pandemic, to educate Americans on the opioid epidemic as overdose rates increase?
CS: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically worsened the opioid epidemic, and it’s frankly never been more important to educate Americans about mental health, substance use disorders, and how to prevent overdoses.
DS: Many more die daily in the age group of 15 to 54 from drug overdoses than from COVID-19, and there is no vaccine available. With a 30 percent increase in overdoses in 2020, it now exceeds 250 deaths daily. It is very important that we make Americans aware of this issue.