American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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ACCP Report - June 2019

ACCP Member Spotlight: Alyssa Peckham

Alyssa Peckham, Pharm.D., BCPP, is a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at Northeastern University and a substance use disorders (SUDs) advanced practice pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Peckham earned her Pharm.D. degree from the University of Rhode Island and completed both a PGY1 residency in pharmacy practice and a PGY2 residency in psychiatry and addiction at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Haven, Connecticut.

Peckham practices pursuant to a collaborative practice agreement while precepting APPE students together with PGY1 and PGY2 pharmacy residents. She is passionate about reducing harm and increasing access to medications for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) via removal of the Drug Addiction Treatment Act waiver for buprenorphine prescribing, conversion of naloxone products to over-the-counter status, legalization of safe injection facilities in the United States, increased access to syringe exchange program and safe injection kits, decriminalization of low-level drug-related infractions, and destigmatization of OUD.

Peckham researches misuse and overuse of prescription medication and illicit substances, with recent publications examining the epidemiology, economics, and policy implications of gabapentin abuse in concert with opioids. She received the Upsher-Smith Excellence in Innovation Award in 2017 for her collaborative practice in psychiatry. She is an active member of the CNS PRN, serving as secretary/treasurer for 2018–2019; is a member of the 2019 Annual Meeting Planning Committee; and will moderate an educational session highlighting old medications with newfound clinical indications or concerns.

Peckham’s career has been influenced by individuals with SUDs who cannot receive adequate treatment because of the various barriers they must overcome to do so. Education and field training relative to SUDs is underrepresented across many health care professional training programs, leaving many health care professionals underprepared to help those with SUDs. Lack of understanding of addiction as a “chronic illness involving brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry that can lead to relapse and progressive development, and that is potentially fatal if left untreated,” has left many patients without proper care. It’s not difficult to identify how devastating and impactful this lack of health care professional preparedness has been in the midst of the opioid crisis as hundreds of Americans continue to die of opioid-related causes despite the availability of an antidote to reverse opioid overdose and effective treatment for maintenance. Given these facts, Peckham comments:

I am influenced by individuals with SUDs who are desperate for help but have yet to be treated with the respect and dignity that every human being deserves. With this, I would encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the nearest low-barrier, non-punitive SUDS clinic so that we can all be prepared to guide someone into appropriate treatment when the opportunity presents.

In addition to her professional goals, a potentially unrealistic life goal of Peckham’s has been to own two additional properties aside from her home – one that is slope-side and another that is oceanfront – because she loves skiing in the winter just as much as she loves sitting on the beach in the summer. Another fun fact is that Peckham held out for 21 years without reading a single Harry Potter book or watching one of the movies. Indeed, she didn’t begin reading about Harry Potter until 2018 in Puerto Rico, when she had finished reading her vacation book a bit earlier than expected and went to a local bookstore in search of a second read. To her surprise, most of the books were written in Spanish. She knew her 4 years of C+ grade high school Spanish would not suffice unless she hit the children’s section, so instead, she eloquently asked the lady at the register “¿libros en inglés?” (she nailed it!). The lady directed her to a very small section only occupied by Harry Potter books. It took her 4 months to read the seven books and watch the eight movies. She happily left her muggle life behind and is proud to report that she was sorted into Ravenclaw, her Patronus is a wolf, and her wand is Elm wood with a Dragon heartstring core 12½" and unyielding flexibility – don’t say she didn’t warn you!