Community pharmacists' role in preventing Opioid Substitution Therapy-related deaths: a qualitative investigation into current UK practice

Jennifer Scott, Ramesh Yadav, Denise Taylor, Gordon Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


Background Opioid substitution therapy involves prescribing of medical substitutes like methadone and buprenorphine to patients who are addicted to opioids. The majority of opioid substitution therapy dispensing in the UK is done by community pharmacists and they often see the patients on daily basis. It is unknown to what extent community pharmacists implement the policy to prevent overdose in patients receiving such treatment. Objective To explore what UK community pharmacists think about their role in preventing opium substitution-related deaths, their understanding of the risks associated with this substitution therapy and their views on what else community pharmacists could do to reduce such deaths. Setting Twenty four community pharmacists from two areas in UK (Worcestershire and Bath and North East Somerset). Method Between January and March 2013, community pharmacists providing opoin substitution therapy were interviewed in their pharmacy, using semi-structured interviews. Interpretative Phenomenology Analysis was used to analyse the data. Main outcome measure Thematically organised description of professional practice as reported by the participants against the clinical/practice guidance for opioid substitution therapy in UK. Results While participants felt their role to be essential in providing the service, they did not feel part of an integrated system. Participants’ ability to act in risk situations was affected by their knowledge, confidence in intervening in such situation, as well as the support they receive in providing the service. Conclusion Participants reported large differences in how ‘opioid substitution therapy’ services are provided in community pharmacy. Lack of knowledge among some pharmacists and lack of support in providing the service resulted in some patients at high risk not having their risks acted upon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-477
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Issue number2
Early online date15 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Buprenorphine
  • Community pharmacy
  • Intoxication
  • Methadone
  • Opioid substitution therapy
  • Opioid-related death
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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