Pharmacy board drafting new methadone standards

Published on June 27, 2014
A local pharmacist from Conception Bay North demonstrates the method for making methadone dosages for patients. The solution is ingested after being mixed with a drink.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins

The Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board is drafting new methadone standards that should be ready by fall. The new rules for pharmacists dispensing methadone will come a little more than a year after the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physicians and Surgeons adopted its extensive new standards.

It’s expected the pharmacy board will post its new guidelines in September, once consultations are done and the last details sorted out, said registrar Margot Priddle.

The board has existing standards on its website.

(The introduction of new medical board standards) was a big proponent of our review process as well and we are working with the medical board on a couple of items we need to work through between the two professions to make sure we can meet the needs of the patients,” Priddle said.

The pharmacy board has been working on the new guidelines for about a year.

Methadone — which reduces drug cravings and opiate withdrawal while blocking euphoria — is used to treat addiction to opiates like OxyContin. Doctors who administer methadone maintenance therapy must obtain a special exemption from Health Canada.

And pharmacists must register as dispensers of methadone with the pharmacy board.

“Some pharmacies just aren’t set up for it in that they don’t have a counselling room, physical layout doesn’t work well. The other thing to consider is any other patients any pharmacy may have,” Priddle said.

“There certainly is a need for it and there is a need from the medical side as well. … The service needs to be available, but it needs to be available with the right standards as well.”