Expanding the capacity of community pharmacy to respond to pharmaceutical opioid problems

October 2015

NDARC: Dr Suzanne Nielsen, Dr Sarah Larney, Prof Louisa Degenhardt, Prof Michael Farrell & Lexi Myers

Other investigators: 

Project Expert Group:

Angelo Pricolo (Pharmacy Guild), Apo Demirkol (South Eastern Sydney Local Health District), Belinda McNair (Pennington Institute), Catriona Matheson (University of Aberdeen), Denis Leahy (Pharmacy Guild), John Strang (Kings College, London), Marie Claire Van Hout (Waterford Institute of Technology), Michelle Lynch (Pharmaceutical Society of Australia), Paul Dietze (Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use, Burnet Institute), Phillip Coffin (San Francisco Department of Public Health), Traci Green (Brown University)

Project description: 

There has been a dramatic increase in opioid prescribing in Australia. This increase has been associated with increased harms including opioid dependence and overdose. Community pharmacy is at the interface of problematic opioid use, with the majority of opioids in Australia supplied direct to patients through community pharmacy. There is considerable potential in community pharmacy settings to respond to problematic pharmaceutical opioid use, including provision of harm reduction measures such as naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of opioids, and is commonly used in the treatment of opioid overdose. Community naloxone supply has been successfully implemented in a range of international settings to address the rising rates of opioid overdose death. International pilot studies indicate an important role for pharmacists in these programs. To date, little work has examined the feasibility and willingness provide these services in Australian community pharmacies. 

This study aims firstly to develop and understand pharmacists’ attitudes, perceptions and confidence in different areas of harm reduction including naloxone supply.

This project will include a scoping review to understand the existing knowledge around community pharmacy supply of naloxone, and an online survey of Australian pharmacists.

The results of this work will be used to identify needs and inform training materials relating community pharmacy naloxone supply in Australia. 

This project is funded by an untied educational grant from Indivior.