According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 11,577 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred in Canada between January 2016 and December 2018.
Undoubtedly, it is fair to say we are now dealing with a crisis. Opioid poisoning hospitalization rates in Canada have seen an 8% increase from 2016 to 2017, reaching an average of 17 hospitalizations each day. Clearly, this Canada-wide public health crisis called for the emergency implementation of solutions.
Pharmacists do their part
Within this context, pharmacists’ expertise with medication, in addition to the 2,000 access points available through the community pharmacy network across Quebec, was without question one of the more tangible solutions, and easily deployed in the field. The unequalled availability of community pharmacies helps improve public health.
Prevention and early intervention
A pharmacist can help prevent a potential opioid addiction. In fact, at the outset of the treatment, a patient must go the pharmacy regularly. The pharmacist is often the first person able to ascertain a patient’s deteriorating health and detect someone struggling with prescription drug addiction. When discussing the matter with the attending physician, a pharmacist may, for instance, suggest adjustments to the prescription. The pharmacist can develop a trusting relationship with his patient thanks to this proximity and intervene when the need arises.
In the field
In 2018, the AQPP produced a video on the critical role pharmacists have toward addressing the opioid crisis. Two experts in this field, pharmacist Félice Saulnier and Dr. Marie-Ève Goyer, a CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal doctor at the CRAN Program, discuss this issue in a short video on the subject.
Granting the status of medical practitioner to pharmacists could also be part of the solution
The AQPP is convinced that by being given the status of medical practitioner, pharmacists would be able to make a greater contribution to the improvement of the population’s health, namely in the context of the opioid crisis. This status would allow them for instance to reduce the doses of narcotics, replace a long-acting medication by a short-acting one, and substitute a prescription drug for another of the same family.