The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy Receives Medication Safety Education Grant from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia

1/23/2019

Charleston, WV - The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) has received a $43,250 grant from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia to help expand medication safety education to pre-schools in three West Virginia counties.  

The funding will assist with the evaluation and further development of the Rex™ the Rx program.  Rex™ the Rx teaches pre-K students about medication safety, including how to properly store medication and dispose of prescriptions (with the help of a trusted adult).  The pre-K program includes the use of an interactive educational platform.  Using a character developed an owned by Murphy Media, Rex™ the Rx, student pharmacists and prevention experts talk to the children about medication safety using an educational coloring book designed to demonstrate three easy curriculum objectives - Cap Him, Know Him, and Throw Him.  Rex™ is a live-action real time generated avatar (a pill bottle) operated by facial recognition in a live streaming platform.  This innovative approach to educating students about the dangers of misusing prescription medications provides opportunities for both in classroom and distance education. 

The grant will be used to introduce Rex™ and his message to 50-100 elementary schools in Kanawha, Cabell and Putnam counties by May 1, 2019.  In addition to the presentation and interactive media, UCSOP will be providing school counselors with an allotment of medication disposal systems.  The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy will be working in partnership with Murphy Media, LLC.  The program is also supported by in-kind donations from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s DEA 360° Program.  

“Early education about medication safety is critical, especially in West Virginia, which is ground zero for the nation’s opioid epidemic” stated Dr. Susan Bissett, UCSOP assistant dean for professional and student affairs.  “The annual rate for pediatric hospital admissions due to opioid poisonings is increasing at an alarming rate.  The average age for prescription drug or illicit drug (mis)use is between nine and twelve years of age. Many children are living with addicted parents or aging grandparents giving the children access to prescription drugs.  The earlier we can educate children about medication safety the better.”

A check presentation is scheduled for January 23, 2019 at 1pm in room 105 in the UC School of Pharmacy.  Ted E. Bear, MD, the Aetna Better Way of WV mascot and MoHarv, the UCSOP mascot will be in attendance.

Jim Smallridge, Manager, Community Development Aetna Better Health of WV, said “Aetna Better Health of WV appreciates the work UCSOP faculty, staff and students are doing to address the issue of substance abuse, particularly opioids, in our communities.  Improper use of prescribed opioids and other medications has been proven to be a gateway to substance abuse.  Approximately one third of Aetna Better Health of WV members reside in the four counties where the Rex™ the RX program will be presented.  Reaching children at an early age, in a fun and memorable way is an outstanding approach to imprint this vitally important message.”

The Rex™ the Rx Program is also being presented at two Kanawha County schools, Holz and Kenna Elementary, on January 23, 2019.