Karen Lin, Staff Photographer

New Haven is now one step closer to implementing an academic detailing program, which provides pharmacists and health care providers with one-on-one assistance to ensure that they are following proper protocols when prescribing and distributing drugs.

On Thursday, the Board of Alders Health and Human Services Committee voted unanimously in favor of the academic detailing program, approving a resolution to seek a $36,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to fund a part-time community health worker. The community health worker would oversee the academic detailing program, working with individual pharmacists and providers as they complete program training. Alders present on Thursday expressed enthusiasm for the proposal, especially in light of New Haven and Connecticut’s losses due to opioid deaths.

“The memory of overdoses on the Green, and bad batches of drugs going around the city is still very fresh in everyone’s minds, despite everything we’ve been through since then,” said Ward 21 Alder Steven Winter. “So it’s encouraging to know that the state is acknowledging and interested in the work that we’re doing on this front and willing to award us this part-time help to advance it.”

Four health districts in Connecticut currently have academic detailing initiatives, following a curriculum developed by the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy. The program consists of three modules: “The Connecticut Prescription Monitoring and Reporting System,” “Naloxone Prescribing and Administration” and “Medication Assisted Treatment.” Even in the absence of a statewide mandate to implement this program, providers and pharmacists are incentivized to participate in the form of education credits.

Director of Health Maritza Bond presented the proposal on Thursday and said that it aims to build on preexisting systems that keep prescribers accountable. She highlighted price gouging — the practice of raising prices, in this case of prescription drugs, to unreasonable levels — as one issue that academic detailing would continue to address.

“Legislation was passed almost four years ago in regards to prescribers enrolling into a portal and ensuring that they are engaging in safe practices and not price gouging for prescriptions,” Bond said. “We’re hoping to have academic detailing around that and add this to our current efforts within the department.”

Bond said that if academic detailing were implemented In New Haven, the community health worker that the program funds would be a master’s of public health student from the Yale School of Public Health. The student would take on the job for 19 hours every week over the course of 15 months and work under Brooke Logan, the city’s health programs director.

Ward 8 Alder Ellen Cupo, who supported the idea of the program, wondered if it could theoretically last longer.

“Does this position have the potential to become an ongoing position?” Cupo asked at the meeting. “Could it be continued beyond the one-year contract?”

Bond said that if the program comes to New Haven, it would only be scheduled to last for 15 months.

“We are always actively able to engage other community health outreach worker positions through other grant funding sources,” Bond said. “We’re looking for opportunities for sustainability for certain.”

The grant is non-competitive, and Bond said that the state of Connecticut originally reached out to the city to ask New Haven to apply. She said it would not have any long-term fiscal impact on the city.

In the proposal outlined for the grant, officials from New Haven’s Health Department said the Elm City’s history of implementing various substance-abuse-related programming would make the department a fitting recipient of the grant.

“Through their work throughout the City, staff have developed partnership with local health care providers,” the officials wrote. “These relationships, along with current and previous work related to substance use disorders, make the NHHD uniquely suited to implement the academic detailing program with local prescribers and pharmacists.”

The proposal will next be considered by the Board of Alders.

Owen Tucker-Smith | owen.tucker-smith@yale.edu

OWEN TUCKER-SMITH
Owen Tucker-Smith covers the Mayor's office, City Hall and local politics. He is also an associate editor at the Yale Daily News Magazine. Originally from Williamstown, MA, he is a first-year in Ezra Stiles College majoring in statistics and data science.