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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising; Overdose Prevention and Management
Presenting author: Cynthia Horvath
Cynthia Horvath, Kira Mandryk, Jackie Kay-LePors
Increasing rates of overdose led Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) to expand availability of naloxone through pharmacies. These changes had implications for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) in terms of the need for coordinated response, including consistent messaging for people accessing naloxone in the city of Ottawa.
In 2012, OPH launched its Peer Overdose Prevention Program (POPP). More than 230 clients have received overdose prevention training and a take-home naloxone kit and over 90 overdoses have been reported back as having been reversed with naloxone. In March 2016, changes to Health Canada’s Prescription Drug List meant that prescriptions are no longer required to access naloxone and in Ontario, are available at no cost to customers. In response to these changes, coupled with increasing overdose risk from potent synthetic opiate availability in Ottawa, OPH identified the need to work with pharmacies for a city-wide coordinated response to overdose to ensure consistent messaging for people accessing naloxone.
OPH partnered with the local Pharmacy Association to develop a needs assessment survey, conducted by phone, to assess: local pharmacy knowledge of the provincial naloxone program; readiness and confidence to provide naloxone to their customers; learning needs of pharmacy staff; and interest in OPH support for pharmacy capacity building.
This initiative contributed to a collaborative approach among local pharmacies, public health, and other community partners. Further, it provided important information for the MOHLTC’s provincial pharmacy naloxone program. More than 100 pharmacies participated in the survey, a majority indicated that the phone call (survey) was helpful, and increased knowledge of the provincial naloxone program. OPH provided tailored information to pharmacies in response to gaps identified through the survey, and together, the community developed consistent overdose prevention messaging to increase access to this life saving medication for people in Ottawa.