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Stefanie Ferreri
Stefanie Ferreri, Pharm.D.

The Centers for Disease Control awarded a $3 million grant to Stefanie Ferreri, Pharm.D., for a study on screening older adults who use prescription opioids and are at risk for falls.

Ferreri is the executive vice chair of the Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and a clinical professor.

Her study will engage patients within the UNC Health Care System who are 65 years of age or older and taking either an opioid or benzodiazepine, with the objective of implementing a de-prescribing medication protocol to protect older adults at risk of falls.

“Given the country’s current opioid crisis, our new approach will focus on educating healthcare providers on how to de-prescribe opioids to patients for whom they pose risks,” Ferreri said. “Our clinics will identify older adult patients at risk of falls, educate them on the risk of falls and injury posed by their medication, and test a new de-prescribing protocol.”

The de-prescribing protocol will include information about alternate treatment strategies and options for managing pain and insomnia that involve less risk than opioids.

“This study will examine the effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance of de-prescribing programs focused on opioids, with the intention of reducing falls,” Ferreri said. “If this is successful, we can disseminate these protocols to outpatient clinics throughout the U.S.”

The CDC grant is for four years at $750,000 per year. Ferreri’s co-principal investigator on the project is Jan Busby-Whitehead, M.D., the director of the Center for Aging and Health at the UNC School of Medicine.

Ferreri has been with the School since 2001, and has been a clinical professor since 2017. Her research interests include advancing clinical practice in the community-pharmacy setting, nonprescription therapeutics, medication therapy management and transitions of care. She is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Achievement Award in Pharmacy Practice from the American Pharmacists Association.

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