Best practices for pharmacists in medication management for opioid use disorder – expanding access and optimizing integration of care during COVID‑19 pandemic and going forward
Pharmacists provide essential medication management services for people with opioid use disorder. Actions taken during the COVID‑19 pandemic must balance the risks of community viral transmission with patient and community safety as it relates to medication treatments (e.g., risk of opioid overdose, risk of treatment interruptions). Significant changes in the model of care for medication treatments (e.g., methadone and buprenorphine) have occurred, and pharmacists have been at the forefront of this transformation. The dual effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic and opioid crisis has created an urgent need to assess the changes and challenges to these services across Ontario. To address these needs, this project proposal has the following objectives: 1.To assess changes due to the COVID‑19 pandemic, establish current state, and identify challenges and facilitators in pharmacist medication management services for people with opioid use disorder in Ontario. 2.To develop best practice guidance for pharmacists across the spectrum of medication management services for people with opioid use disorder to mitigate the impact of COVID‑19 and to make recommendations for adapting, advancing and expanding access to medication management services for people with opioid use disorder, leveraging pharmacist expertise in collaboration with health care partners going forward. The current global COVID‑19 pandemic is exacerbating existing limitations in pharmacist services delivery for people with opioid use disorder. We will identify needs, establish current best practices, and plan for improvements as we adjust pharmacy practice now and into the future, in order to meet the needs of people with opioid use disorder, prevent harms and reduce overdose deaths.