The Evolution of Pharmaceutical Care for Drug Misusers

Helen D Robertson, Christine Bond, Catriona Matheson

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Background In the last 20 years pharmaceutical care has evolved as a modus operandi for community pharmacy. This paper tracks the development of pharmaceutical care for drug misusers since 1995 and considers the implications for pharmacy engagement with the wider care team. Aim To survey current community pharmacy service provision for drug misusers, past training and future training needs and compare with data from previous years (1995, 2000, 2006). Method A cross-sectional postal questionnaire of pharmacy managers in Scotland (n=1,246), and telephone interviews with non-respondents. Results were compared with previous surveys. Results The response rate was 70% (873) including 13.2% (164) by telephone. More pharmacies dispensed methadone in 2014 (88.5%) than previously, a significant increase across all time points (1995, 2000, 2006) (p<0.001). Most pharmacies (88.1%) had some drug misusers registered for the Minor Ailment Scheme. In 2014, 43.4% of pharmacists always reported a drug misuser’s non-attendance for opiate replacement treatment (ORT) to the prescriber (36.6% in 2006). If patient intoxication was suspected, medication was always withheld by 47.9% (27.5% in 2006). Pharmacists undertaking training in drug misuse and blood-borne diseases increased significantly since 1995, to 78.6% and 48.7% respectively in 2014 (p<0.001). The preferred topic for future training was communication/engagement with other services. Conclusion Pharmaceutical care for drug misusers has evolved from ORT supply to a more clinical approach. Pharmacists actively monitored ORT patients, managed their minor ailments and increasingly engaged with the wider care team.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-645
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Early online date25 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

This survey was funded by a grant from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), Grant No: CZH/4/998.
We thank all pharmacists in Scotland who responded to questionnaires for this study and Aileen Bryson, RPS Scotland and Specialist Pharmacists in Substance Misuse (SSPiSMs) who encouraged local pharmacists to take part.


  • pharmaceutical care
  • drug misuse
  • minor ailment scheme


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