A family’s loss turns into a message about drug interactions

By Staff
A family’s loss turns into a message about drug interactions

From left, Don Hill, Geremi Boom, Karen Hill, Kristina Searls, and Karol Kendall

A family that lost a loved one to a combination of prescription drugs is working with University of Colorado’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CU SSPPS) to prevent similar deaths.

James Patrick “JP” Carroll was 26 years-old when he passed away in his sleep because of a mixture of prescribed anti-anxiety medications and a single dose of prescription pain medication. The dosage of the individual medications was not lethal—the combination of opiates and benzodiazepines killed him.

Every 19 minutes in the United States someone dies of an accidental prescription drug overdose. Carroll’s family vows to do whatever it can to prevent this kind of avoidable death from happening to others. The JP Prescription Drug Awareness Foundation (a program of Ability Connection of Colorado) is devoted to preventing these types of deaths and educating about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.

The Foundation set up a $5,000 scholarship in their son’s name with the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy. The first recipient is: Geremi Boom, a second-year student.  Her personal experience with other people in her life who are affected by prescription drug abuse drives her to be a champion of prescription drug misuse and abuse prevention.  She developed a program with fellow pharmacy student Laura Vriesman, titled, “Prescription drug abuse prevention for parents,” in which she prepared free community lectures and marketed it to parent and church organizations.  Since she began this project over two years ago, she has spoken to over 300 parents and 20 teenagers.

“Prescription drug misuse kills more people each year than car accidents and all other illegal drug overdoses combined,” said Karen Hill, JP’s mother and vice president of the Foundation. “When prescription pain medications are combined with alcohol, antidepressant medications, anti-anxiety medications, people can die. They don’t intend to die but over 20,000 times a year, it happens.”

CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy also is committed to educating pharmacists and students about the dangers associated with drug interactions. “The JP Awareness Foundation is an important and integral part of a statewide effort to reduce prescription drug abuse. This scholarship will help train future pharmacists to provide high level care and prevent tragic outcomes from drug-drug interactions," said Rob Valuck, Ph.D., professor of clinical pharmacy at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy, board member for The JP Awareness Foundation, and Coordinating Center Director of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (housed at CU SSPPS).

Learn more about CU’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and The JP Awareness Foundation.