Increasing the capacity of community pharmacy for screening, brief intervention and referral for treatment of pharmaceutical opioid use disorders

June 2017

Dr Suzanne Nielsen
Professor Alison Ritter

Marina Hanna, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
Paul Jones, Pharmacy Guild
Lesley Brydon, Painaustralia
Hester Wilson, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Primary Health Care Networks, Morgan Irvine

Project description: 

Dramatic increases in opioid use have been observed in Australia, and many parts of North America and Europe. This increase has been associated with growing evidence of harms including morbidity, mortality and dependence. While there are indications that increasing numbers of people are seeking treatment for both prescribed and over-the-counter opioids, the growth in treatment represents only a fraction of the estimated number of people who experience problem pharmaceutical opioid use. While much work has focused on the role of GPs, pharmacists represent an understudied yet highly skilled group of health professionals that have an important role to play in addressing prescribed and over-the-counter opioid dependence.

Effective treatments are available for pharmaceutical opioid dependence, though the people that need them are rarely identified to receive them. Mortality from pharmaceutical opioids exceeds that from heroin by two-fold. Those with chronic pain are prevalent in mortality data, yet little focus has been placed on changing policy and practice to respond to their treatment needs. This project aims to address this gap and test a pilot a model of care which will include screening, referral and treatment. Following evaluation and refinement of this initial model further dissemination and implementation will occur.

For full details please visit the NDARC website.