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Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service / Amira Guirguis; Rosalind Gittins; Fabrizio Schifano

Behavioral Sciences, Volume: 10, Issue: 8, Start page: 121

Swansea University Author: Amira, Guirguis

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DOI (Published version): 10.3390/bs10080121

Abstract

(1) Introduction: Drug-related deaths in the UK are at concerning high levels. The unknown content and purity of illicit substances can cause unpredictable adverse effects and thus a public health risk with no sign of abating. On-site drug checking is a public health strategy that has previously bee...

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Published in: Behavioral Sciences
ISSN: 2076-328X
Published: MDPI AG 2020
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa54800
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spelling 2020-08-27T16:29:28.3046036 v2 54800 2020-07-23 Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service b49270b9a0d580cf4f31f9a1b6c93f87 0000-0001-8255-0660 Amira Guirguis Amira Guirguis true false 2020-07-23 BMS (1) Introduction: Drug-related deaths in the UK are at concerning high levels. The unknown content and purity of illicit substances can cause unpredictable adverse effects and thus a public health risk with no sign of abating. On-site drug checking is a public health strategy that has previously been implemented, predominantly in festival settings, but without Home Office licensing. (2) Aims: The aim of this study was to pilot the UK’s first pharmacist-led, Home Office-licensed community drug checking service. (3) Methods: A bespoke protocol incorporating legally, professionally and ethically binding documents was implemented. This free, confidential service ran between February and March 2019, was available to anyone over 18 who were purposefully recruited, gave informed consent and agreed to relinquish their drug sample. Samples were checked on-site within an established Substance Misuse Service (SMS) using a handheld Raman spectrometer to determine likely drug content and adulterants. In parallel, participants completed a questionnaire about their substance use and the drug sample(s) being tested. A pharmacist-led multidisciplinary approach was adopted to discuss the analytical findings. Informed by the results of the analysis and the questionnaire, people who used the service received tailored harm reduction advice. (4) Results and Discussion: The pilot operated for a total of four days over four weeks. Eleven people visited and relinquished a total of thirteen samples. Half of the participants had previously overdosed and were known to the SMS. Seventy per cent were male, all were White British individuals, 30% were employed and two people disclosed visiting from another nearby town. Samples included what was thought to be heroin, synthetic cannabinoids, stimulants, benzodiazepines and LSD and none required activation of the “alerts cascade” process. Most participants drank alcohol regularly and the concomitant use of traditional illicit drugs and prescribed medication (including opioids, anxiolytics and antidepressants) with sedating profiles was common. Given some of the ethical decisions and interpretation of the results, specialist pharmacist involvement was deemed essential. (5) Conclusions: This pilot demonstrated the proof-of-concept that a pharmacist-led Home Office-licensed drug checking service can be successfully implemented in community SMSs. Journal Article Behavioral Sciences 10 8 121 MDPI AG 2076-328X drug checking; harm reduction; Home Office; Raman spectroscopy; substance misuse; overdose; opiates; opioids; cannabinoids; drug testing; pill testing 25 7 2020 2020-07-25 10.3390/bs10080121 COLLEGE NANME Biomedical Sciences COLLEGE CODE BMS Swansea University 2020-08-27T16:29:28.3046036 2020-07-23T23:02:14.4211671 Amira Guirguis 0000-0001-8255-0660 1 Rosalind Gittins 2 Fabrizio Schifano 3 54800__18073__41ea63be2ad24a4e834cd532660ac287.pdf 54800.pdf 2020-08-27T16:28:24.4827958 Output 741460 application/pdf Version of Record true Released under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). true English
title Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
spellingShingle Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
Amira, Guirguis
title_short Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
title_full Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
title_fullStr Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
title_full_unstemmed Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
title_sort Piloting the UK’s First Home-Office-Licensed Pharmacist-Led Drug Checking Service at a Community Substance Misuse Service
author_id_str_mv b49270b9a0d580cf4f31f9a1b6c93f87
author_id_fullname_str_mv b49270b9a0d580cf4f31f9a1b6c93f87_***_Amira, Guirguis
author Amira, Guirguis
author2 Amira Guirguis
Rosalind Gittins
Fabrizio Schifano
format Journal article
container_title Behavioral Sciences
container_volume 10
container_issue 8
container_start_page 121
publishDate 2020
institution Swansea University
issn 2076-328X
doi_str_mv 10.3390/bs10080121
publisher MDPI AG
document_store_str 1
active_str 0
description (1) Introduction: Drug-related deaths in the UK are at concerning high levels. The unknown content and purity of illicit substances can cause unpredictable adverse effects and thus a public health risk with no sign of abating. On-site drug checking is a public health strategy that has previously been implemented, predominantly in festival settings, but without Home Office licensing. (2) Aims: The aim of this study was to pilot the UK’s first pharmacist-led, Home Office-licensed community drug checking service. (3) Methods: A bespoke protocol incorporating legally, professionally and ethically binding documents was implemented. This free, confidential service ran between February and March 2019, was available to anyone over 18 who were purposefully recruited, gave informed consent and agreed to relinquish their drug sample. Samples were checked on-site within an established Substance Misuse Service (SMS) using a handheld Raman spectrometer to determine likely drug content and adulterants. In parallel, participants completed a questionnaire about their substance use and the drug sample(s) being tested. A pharmacist-led multidisciplinary approach was adopted to discuss the analytical findings. Informed by the results of the analysis and the questionnaire, people who used the service received tailored harm reduction advice. (4) Results and Discussion: The pilot operated for a total of four days over four weeks. Eleven people visited and relinquished a total of thirteen samples. Half of the participants had previously overdosed and were known to the SMS. Seventy per cent were male, all were White British individuals, 30% were employed and two people disclosed visiting from another nearby town. Samples included what was thought to be heroin, synthetic cannabinoids, stimulants, benzodiazepines and LSD and none required activation of the “alerts cascade” process. Most participants drank alcohol regularly and the concomitant use of traditional illicit drugs and prescribed medication (including opioids, anxiolytics and antidepressants) with sedating profiles was common. Given some of the ethical decisions and interpretation of the results, specialist pharmacist involvement was deemed essential. (5) Conclusions: This pilot demonstrated the proof-of-concept that a pharmacist-led Home Office-licensed drug checking service can be successfully implemented in community SMSs.
published_date 2020-07-25T04:12:16Z
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