B.C. pharmacists will soon be required to undergo special training designed to reduce the stigma and increase knowledge to combat the province’s staggering opioid overdose crisis.
The BC Pharmacy Association and College of Pharmacists BC announced Thursday that it launched a new opioid agonist treatment training program, which every community pharmacist will be required to complete by March 31, 2021.
One pharmacist from every pharmacy in the province will be trained by next summer.
The training, which is in line with BC Centre on Substance Use guidelines released earlier this year, will include in-person workshops and online self-study components, the association said.
Addictions Minister Judy Darcy called the training “unlike anything else available to pharmacists in Canada.”
B.C. has been hit with the majority of overdose deaths across the country since 2016, with about 80 per cent involving the deadly illicit drug fentanyl.
The total cost of the project is estimated at approximately $2.2 million, with $950,500 in funding from Health Canada and about $1.1 million through to the end of 2021-22 by the province. Remaining costs to deliver the program will be covered through training registration fees.
BC Pharmacy Association CEO Geraldine Vance said while community pharmacists have been dispensing methadone since the 1990s, treatments now include a variety of options.
“As treatment options continue to increase, so does the role of pharmacists in helping their patients access the supports that meet their specific needs,” Vance said.