Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 13–16 | Cite as

The role of the community pharmacist in drug abuse: a comparison of service provision between Northern Ireland and England/Wales

  • Glenda F. Fleming
  • James C. McElnay
  • Carmel M. Hughes
  • Janie Sheridan
  • John Strang


Aim: The aim of the present research was to establish the current extent of pharmacists' contact with illicit drug users in Northern Ireland, their willingness to provide services for this group and to compare the findings with data from a 1995 national survey of community pharmacies in England and Wales. Method:The questionnaire developed by the National Addiction Centre for research in England/Wales was used to collect data. It was mailed on two occasions (March and April 1999) together with a covering letter and a prepaid return envelope to all community pharmacies in Northern Ireland (n=507). A final reminder letter was included in the local wholesalers' medical delivery for the attention of the pharmacist in May 1999.Main Outcome measure: The extent to which Northern Ireland pharmacists had contact with and provided services to illicit drug users compared to pharmacists in England/Wales.Results: A response rate of 67.5% was achieved. Respondents in Northern Ireland were providing fewer services to drug users than those in England/Wales. Respondents reported dispensing methadone for the treatment of addiction/misuse to only 9 patients, while only 17 pharmacists had been asked to sell injecting equipment in the previous week and no pharmacist was participating in a needle exchange scheme. However, most respondents indicated their willingness to provide such services. Barriers towards the provision of services were, however, highlighted e.g. the need for training and the establishment of support systems. Conclusion: Pharmacists in Northern Ireland are in a position to contribute to the policy agenda in Northern Ireland for drug misuse, prevention, treatment and harm minimisation ‐ roles which the survey indicates they are willing to embrace. However, training programmes, support systems and adequate remuneration packages must be established before they will be in a position to participate fully.

Community pharmacist HIV prevention Illicit drug use Northern Ireland Services for illicit drug users 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenda F. Fleming
    • 1
  • James C. McElnay
    • 1
  • Carmel M. Hughes
    • 1
  • Janie Sheridan
    • 2
  • John Strang
    • 2
  1. 1.The Pharmacy Practice Research Group, School of PharmacyThe Queen's University of BelfastBelfast
  2. 2.National Addiction CentreInstitute of Psychiatry and Maudsley HospitalLondon

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