People living with an opioid use disorder will receive enhanced care as a result of a new training program for B.C. pharmacists dispensing the expanding range of life-saving treatment medications.
The BC Pharmacy Association is launching a new opioid agonist treatment (OAT) training program for community pharmacists, who are often on the front line of addressing the opioid crisis. The program is aimed at reducing stigma and expanding pharmacists’ knowledge about methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone and slow-release oral morphine. The program will also improve the experience and engagement of people receiving treatment.
“This new training program is unlike anything else available to pharmacists in Canada,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “The program is another important example of how British Columbia is leading the way by taking innovative action to address the overdose crisis and save more lives. It is another step to ensure that people living with addiction receive the services they need to support them along their unique pathway to hope and healing.”
The training includes in-person workshops and an online self-study component. One pharmacist from every pharmacy in the province will be trained by summer 2019. As well, as part of the phased-in training, the Ministry of Health and the College of Pharmacists of BC will require all pharmacists dispensing opioid agonist treatment medications to complete the training by March 31, 2021.
The program is in line with the expanded range of treatments outlined in the new guidelines from the BC Centre on Substance Use, the updated professional practice policies of the College of Pharmacists of BC and the requirements of the Ministry of Health. The First Nations Health Authority was a key partner in developing the program.
The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately $2.2 million. Funding of $950,500 from Health Canada is being provided through its Substance Use and Addictions Program toward the cost of this project. The Province, through the Ministry of Health, will provide additional funding up to approximately $1.1 million through to the end of 2021-22. Remaining costs to deliver the program will be covered through training registration fees.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, federal Minister of Health –
“Pharmacists are on the front lines of the opioid crisis, dispensing both pain medications and opioid replacement therapies. This training program will help equip B.C. pharmacists with the latest information so they can deliver evidence-based care that limits the potential for harm and supports people who want and need help.”
Geraldine Vance, CEO, BC Pharmacy Association –
“Community pharmacists throughout B.C. have been dispensing OAT since the 1990s, starting with methadone. Today, they now work with patients who are taking buprenorphine/naloxone, slow-release oral morphine and other therapies. As treatment options continue to increase, so does the role of pharmacists in helping their patients access the supports that meet their specific needs.”
Bob Nakagawa, registrar, College of Pharmacists of BC –
“We believe that the new training program is an important step in supporting pharmacists in caring for people living with opioid use disorder. By increasing pharmacists' knowledge of methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone and slow-release oral morphine treatment, and providing education on reducing stigma and improving patient engagement, we believe that the training will have a positive impact on the opioid overdose crisis and help save more lives.”
For more about preventing overdoses, visit: https://www.health.gov.bc.ca/stopoverdosebc/
To learn more about the BC Pharmacy Association, visit: https://www.bcpharmacy.ca/
To learn more about the College of Pharmacists of BC, visit: http://www.bcpharmacists.org/
To learn more about the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU), visit: http://www.bccsu.ca
To learn more about the First Nations Health Authority, visit: http://www.fnha.ca/
To learn more about Health Canada, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada.html