Community pharmacy services for drug misusers in Scotland: what difference does 5 years make?

Catriona Isobel Matheson, Christine Margaret Bond, J. Pitcairn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Aims To assess current levels Of participation of community pharmacists in needle exchange provision, assess participation in dispensing any drugs for drug misuse, explore methadone dispensing practice, assess involvement in health promotion for drug misusers, assess levels of training in drug misuse and compare all of the above with data from 5 years previously.

Design A cross-sectional postal questionnaire.

Setting All community pharmacies in Scotland (n = 1162).

Participants A total of 9 6 9 pharmacists managing community pharmacies on a day-to-day basis (response rate 83.4%).

Measurements Descriptive data were collected on demography, drug misuse services provided and training. Data were combined with a dataset from an identical survey conducted 5 years previously for statistical comparison.

Results Levels of needle exchange provision has not changed significantly (9.71% in 2000 compared to 8.6%, in 1995). Of all respondents, 71.5% now dispense drug for the management of drug misuse, 68.9% dispense methadone and 56.7% provide a supervised methadone consumption service. The number of methadone clients receiving methadone through pharmacies has increased from 3387 in 1995 to 8792 in 2000 and the mean number of clients dispensed methadone per pharmacy has increased from 7.3 in 1995 to 13.2 in 2000; 65.1% of all methadone clients now consume their methadone under pharmacist supervision. The proportion of pharmacists dispensing methadone who provide a supervised consumption service has increased significantly from 37% to 82.8%. Considerable changes in pharmacy practice are evident with significant increases in the number of pharmacists who always lay down ground rules, ask for identification on first visits, make up prescriptions in advance and provide verbal advice and leaflets on the management of drug misuse. Training in drug misuse doubled from 31.8%, to 66.8%.

Conclusions Community pharmacy involvement with drug misusers has increased dramatically in the last 5 years. However, this increase is largely in methadone dispensing and supervision. Pharmacists appear to be more proactive in providing advice and information, perhaps as a result of greater training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1405-1411
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002


  • community pharmacy
  • drug misuse
  • methadone dispensing
  • needle exchange


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