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Controlled drugs

Community pharmacy included in Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce £4m funding package

A research project that examines the role of community pharmacies in the prevention of opioid overdose will benefit from the funding.

Community pharmacy included in Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce £4m funding package

Source: Science Photo Library

Naloxone hydrochloride, brand name Narcan, is a nasal spray that treats heroin overdose by blocking the effects of opioids as an opioid receptor antagonist

Community pharmacy has been included in £4m of funding announced to reduce harm and deaths from drug use in Scotland.

Announced by the Scottish Drug Deaths Taskforce, the Scottish government money will see £3m given to Scotland’s 31 Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, to help them achieve six strategies for reducing harm and deaths set out by the taskforce in January 2020.

The remaining £1m will be split across ten research projects which, the Scottish government said, look at “different approaches to tackling the public health emergency”.

One of these projects will examine the role of community pharmacies in the prevention of opioid overdose. Led by Rebecca Foster, research fellow at the University of Stirling’s Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research, the project will look at how community pharmacists provide intranasal take-home naloxone packages for people at risk of prescription opiate overdose in Fife. The project will build on work carried out by the same team in 2019.

The funding comes as the Drug Deaths Taskforce marks its first anniversary. Catriona Matheson, taskforce chair, said that since the team held its first meeting in September 2020 “we have been urgently reviewing evidence of what can best address Scotland’s unique challenge, and putting that evidence in action”.

Matheson added that “we all need to get away from a search for a mythical, single, magic bullet and towards a programme of implemented strategies that not only works but engenders a new level of trust, sharing and collaboration in Scotland’s key agencies”.

The taskforce has also published a ‘Stigma Policy and Strategy’, outlining what actions it believes need to be taken to reduce stigma around drug misuse. Joe FitzPatrick, Scotland’s minister for public health, said that he has “been told repeatedly that stigma is a real barrier to people accessing treatment.

“Stigma can come from many sources, but most damaging is self-stigma, where people believe they are not worthy of support. It is costing lives every day in Scotland and I believe this new strategy will help us tackle what is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2020.20208244

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