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J Am Pharm Assoc (2003) ; 2022 Oct 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2228233


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdowns disrupted access to harm reduction supplies and services known to be effective in overdose prevention and contributed to a worsening of the opioid crisis. However, because pharmacies can provide naloxone and sell over-the-counter (OTC) sterile syringes, their continued operation throughout the pandemic potentially reinforced a public health role as a distribution hub for safer use supplies. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this analysis was to examine patterns of naloxone and OTC syringe sale volume at 463 community pharmacies in 2 states with high overdose rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We analyzed weekly pharmacy-level dispensing data from January 5, 2020, to December 31, 2020, from one corporate community pharmacy chain in Massachusetts (n = 415 pharmacies) and New Hampshire (n = 48 pharmacies). Descriptive statistics and visualizations over the analytical period were generated as initial explorations of the outcome. Zero-inflated Poisson and negative binomial models were used to analyze distribution data along with county-level COVID-19 case rates and store-level COVID-19 testing location status during the same time. Interactions tested the effect of COVID-19 case rates on naloxone and OTC syringe sales. RESULTS: Pharmacies that reported selling nonprescription syringes and dispensing naloxone during the study period averaged 210.13 OTC syringes sold and 0.53 naloxone prescriptions per week. Pharmacies in communities that experienced greater COVID-19 case burden also exhibited higher naloxone dispensing and OTC syringe sales during this period. The odds of selling OTC syringes increased over time but naloxone dispensing remained constant over the pandemic year. Pharmacies hosting COVID-19 testing tended to have lower OTC syringe sales and naloxone provision than nontesting sites. CONCLUSION: During the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacies provided harm reduction services and dispensed lifesaving medications by quickly adapting to fulfill community needs without disrupting co-located services for COVID-19 response.

Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 9, 2022 02 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1666657


OBJECTIVES: Unpredictable fluctuations in the illicit drug market increase overdose risk. Drug checking, or the use of technology to provide insight into the contents of illicit drug products, is an overdose prevention strategy with an emerging evidence base. The use of portable spectrometry devices to provide point-of-service analysis of the contents of illicit drugs been adopted by harm reduction organizations internationally but is only emerging in the United States. This study aimed to identify barriers and facilitators of implementing drug checking services with spectrometry devices in an urban harm reduction organization and syringe service program serving economically marginalized people who use drugs in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). METHODS: In-vivo observations and semi-structured interviews with harm reduction staff and participants were conducted between March 2019 and December 2020. We used the consolidated framework for implementation research to identify implementation barriers and facilitators. RESULTS: This implementation effort was facilitated by the organization's shared culture of harm reduction-which fostered shared implementation goals and beliefs about the intervention among staff persons-its horizontal organizational structure, strong identification with the organization among staff, and strong relationships with external funders. Barriers to implementation included the technological complexity of the advanced spectroscopy devices utilized for drug checking. Program staff indicated that commercially available spectroscopy devices are powerful but not always well-suited for drug checking efforts, describing their technological capacities as "the Bronze Age of Drug Checking." Other significant barriers include the legal ambiguity of drug checking services, disruptive and oppositional police activity, and the responses and programmatic changes demanded by the COVID-19 pandemic. CONCLUSIONS: For harm reduction organizations to be successful in efforts to implement and scale drug checking services, these critical barriers-especially regressive policing policies and prohibitive costs-need to be addressed. Future research on the impact of policy changes to reduce the criminalization of substance use or to provide explicit legal frameworks for the provision of this and other harm reduction services may be merited.

COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Harm Reduction , Illicit Drugs , Police , Boston , Drug Overdose/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics , Violence
Subst Abus ; 41(2): 147-149, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-104139


We highlight the critical roles that pharmacists have related to sustaining and advancing the changes being made in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that patients have more seamless and less complex access to treatment. Discussed herein is how the current COVID-19 pandemic is impacting persons with substance use disorders, barriers that persist, and the opportunities that arise as regulations around treatments for this population are eased.

Continuity of Patient Care , Coronavirus Infections/complications , Opioid-Related Disorders/complications , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/virology , Pneumonia, Viral/complications , Betacoronavirus , Buprenorphine/therapeutic use , COVID-19 , Continuity of Patient Care/legislation & jurisprudence , Humans , Methadone/therapeutic use , Pandemics , Pharmacists , SARS-CoV-2 , United States