New opioid training program for pharmacists launches in December

Updated on July 16, 2021 (Originally posted on November 27, 2018) The Tablet

This December, the BC Pharmacy Association launches a new training program on Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) for community pharmacists. 

The program, which includes an online self-study program followed by an in-person workshop, provides essential information on topics ranging from opioid use disorder and treatments to pharmacy practice and payer requirements. Taking this training will allow pharmacists to feel more confident in engaging with patients and prescribers – one more step in helping address the overdose crisis in B.C.

“This is unlike any other training program for pharmacists in Canada,” says Geraldine Vance, CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association. “From the 1990s, when community pharmacists in B.C. began dispensing methadone, treatment options for patients with opioid use disorder continues to evolve.”

Called OAT CAMPP (Opioid Agonist Treatment Compliance and Management Program for Pharmacy), the course will expand B.C. pharmacists’ knowledge about methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone and slow-release oral morphine (SROM). Other components include how to reduce stigma, improve patient engagement and understand patients’ experiences in treatment.

This training program will be required by both the College of Pharmacists of BC and the Ministry of Health. The PharmaCare program will also be phasing in the new pharmacist training as a mandatory requirement for pharmacists to receive PharmaCare’s current methadone witnessed ingestion fee and any other future fees related to OAT for treatment of opioid use disorder. The intent is to have at least one pharmacist from each of the OAT dispensing pharmacies in B.C. trained by the summer of 2019.

The remaining pharmacists will have a mandatory requirement to complete the training by March 31, 2021.

The BCPhA has worked closely with the Ministry of Health’s Pharmaceutical Services Division (PSD) over the years to ensure patients get the best care during their often-daily interactions with pharmacists. Approximately 18 months ago the BCPhA began conversations about how best to support pharmacists to handle the complexity of care for this fragile patient population. 

“We agreed there was a need to enhance the training pharmacists receive on OAT based on the latest evidence and research. In addition, OAT is a key intervention as part of B.C.’s response to the overdose crisis because it saves lives,” Vance says.

With financial support from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions and Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program, and working closely with the First Nations Health Authority, the BCPhA has developed a robust OAT training program consistent with BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) guidelines, the updated professional practice policies of the College and the requirements of the Ministry of Health. 

The cost of the program is $300 for members and $550 for non-members.

This article is featured in The Tablet. The Tablet features pharmacy and industry news, profiles on B.C. pharmacists, information on research developments and new products.