The fight against opioid related harms

September 17th, 2019

The fight against opioid related harms

In recent years, federal and provincial governments, healthcare regulators, healthcare providers and communities have been working towards reducing opioid related harms across Canada. In efforts to achieve harm reduction goals, stakeholders have focused on increasing access to effective treatments for opioid use disorder (OUD), and prevention of harmful opioid use through safe prescribing, increasing public awareness, and reducing stigma.

Rising to the challenge

Opioid agonist treatments such as buprenorphine-naloxone and methadone are part of an evidence-based approach for treatment of OUD. The Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board (NLPB) has been working with pharmacy professionals throughout the province to increase the capacity for this critical pharmacy service. NLPB applauds pharmacy professionals for rising to the challenge and taking reasonable steps to prevent harm to patients who are experiencing OUD.

Since 2017, in Newfoundland & Labrador (NL), the number of community pharmacies offering opioid agonist management treatment (OAMT) services has increased by 35%. In addition, all hospital pharmacies are registered to provide OAMT and have been working diligently to update policies and procedures to support safe delivery of this treatment in the hospital setting.

Increasing public awareness

As the pharmacy regulator in NL, NLPB is dedicated to regularly sharing valuable information about opioids for registrants and the public. Recently, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) launched an online resource: Pharmacist’s Virtual Communication Toolkit: Engaging in Effective Conversations about Opioids

This illustrative resource is designed to help pharmacists communicate with the public about opioids; the toolkit features three strategies – STOP, DROP & ROLL – to engage with patients, see the graphic below. The toolkit also includes statistics on the effectiveness of opioids to treat pain, what’s at risk as opioid doses increase, and downloadable infographics. NAPRA’s resource is a must-see!

Webinar on September 26

Coming up on September 26, NLPB’s Associate Registrar (Quality Assurance), Noelle Patten is taking part in a webinar called, “The pharmacist’s role in management of opioid use disorder.” Patten will provide insight into the vital role that pharmacists play in the treatment of OUD. Presenting with her is Stephanie Delaney, a pharmacist who works with NuCare Pharmacy, who provides clinical pharmacy services to the Opioid Treatment Centre. Delaney will share her clinical and dispensing knowledge on various opioid-agonist therapy options. Click here for details on how to attend.


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