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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Poison control center retains license

Despite facing extreme budget cuts, the College of Pharmacy’s Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center has earned recertification for the next five years.

Certification aims to ensure each poison center in the country adheres to the same quality standards. This includes taking calls 24 hours per day and ensuring that staff members get continuing education on poison and drug-related issues. The college’s center answers more than 150 calls per day from citizens and health care professionals seeking advice from UA experts about poisons, drugs and venomous creatures, according to Keith Boesen, director of the center.

“Recertification is vital to us,” Boesen said in a press release from the center. “Our certification ensures our callers get the high level of care they deserve.”

The recertification came after the center’s budget was cut significantly. State cuts in 2008 and federal cuts in 2011 slashed operating funds for all of the nation’s 57 poison control centers. Government sources and private donors fund about 50 percent of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center’s operating costs, though the College of Pharmacy can pick up roughly 50 percent of its funding if needed.

“It’s an emergency,” Boesen said. “The College of Pharmacy has always seen the Poison Center as too important to lose due to funding issues.”

Because of this, Boesen said, the College of Pharmacy stepped up to fund the center until a new line of funding or restoration of funding can be obtained.

At the same time, there is little the center can do that they have haven’t already done to reduce costs.

“For the Poison Center, we operate as lean as we can be to maintain 24/7 operations,” Boesen said. “It is as efficient as it can be.”

The center has provided services to the UA since its inception in 1955. Poison control centers could save the government up to $997,395,280 annually by reducing the need for costly emergency room visits, according to data on the center’s website. In addition, every 90 seconds a health care professional consults the center for medically relevant information.

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