B.C. pharmacists call for expansion of injection sites to remote communities

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Injectable Hydromorphone. Photo via West Ward Pharmaceuticals

VANCOUVER – The head of the BC Pharmacy Association says chronic opioid users in rural and remote communities should have access to supervised injectable treatment that is already available in the Vancouver area.

Geraldine Vance says the overdose epidemic demands immediate involvement by community pharmacists and up to 20 pilot projects should be started in under-served parts of British Columbia.

Vance says there’s already a pilot study in Vancouver to expand on injectable treatment provided at the city’s Crosstown clinic, where patients receive hydromorphone and pharmaceutical-grade heroin.

She says that service needs to be expanded to areas where overdose deaths have increased dramatically, and pharmacists could help play a vital role in dispensing the drug and monitoring patients.

Vance says her association has been in discussions with the BC Centre on Substance Use and the BC Centre for Disease Control since the spring about how pharmacists could be involved.

She says a report released last week by the BC Centre on Substance Use on guidelines for health-care providers for use of hydromorphone missed an opportunity to involve pharmacists in pilot projects.

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