A Tenth-Year Reflection on Generation Rx

By: Dr. Nicole Kwiek & Dr. Kenneth Hale

Generation Rx (see GenerationRx.org) is a partnership between the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy and the Cardinal Health Foundation. We provide free ready-to-use resources for educating youth, teens, college students, other adults in the community, and seniors about “safe medication practices for life.” Our Generation Rx University resources provide prescription drug misuse prevention tools for college campuses, and new and revised materials were just released this month.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Generation Rx. We have come a long way and made a significant impact during that time. For example, our materials have been used in every state in the country, and through our partnership with the American Pharmacists Association’s Academy of Student Pharmacists alone, it is estimated that over 37 million people have been reached with these medication safety messages since 2010! But the public health problem relating to prescription drug misuse just keeps getting worse and worse, as evidenced by the fact that drug overdose is our leading cause of accidental death.

So, what have we learned through Generation Rx, and what else are we trying to do to improve the ways we use medications?

Lessons Learned: (1) The drug-taking culture in which we live underlies the misuse of medications, leading to tendencies toward self-diagnosis, self-prescribing, and the normalization of the use of pharmaceuticals. We need to remind people that there’s a reason that a prescription is required for some medication. (2) There are some very simple things we can do to correct basic misperceptions relating to the safety and legality of prescription drug misuse that are amenable to educational prevention efforts. We need to share the facts about the potential health, social, and legal consequences of prescription drug misuse. (3) Relatively easy access to prescription drugs is a major part of the problem. We need to teach people about the need for safe storage and disposal of medications. (4) Peer influence is so important in encouraging safe medication practices. We need to recruit and train people of all ages to spread these messages.

What’s coming for Generation Rx? (1) We are placing an even stronger emphasis on K-12 educational prevention efforts, including partnerships with Extension educators and the pharmacy community to support teachers in this important task. (2) We are engaging pharmacists in the establishment of systematic practices to educate patients on the safe use of medications. (3) We are focusing attention on opioid education. (4) We continually endeavor to update our educational resources. (5) We always seek additional partners to help spread the important work of Generation Rx.

Thank you to everyone who helps keep our communities safe by sharing the four simple key Generation Rx messages:

  • Only use prescription medications as directed by a health professional.
  • Never share your prescription medications with others or use someone else’s prescription medications.
  • Always store your medications securely to prevent others from taking them, and properly dispose of medications that you no longer need.
  • Be a good example to those around you by modeling these safe medication-taking practices and discussing the dangers of misusing prescription drugs with your family, friends, colleagues, students, or patients.