Pharmacy's role in reducing harm from drugs

We are calling on the Scottish Government, pharmacy organisations, contractors and members of the profession to work together to reduce harm from drugs and improve the health of people who use drugs. We are also asking for significant resource, expertise and finance to be made available.

Annual drug death data in Scotland shows that there were 1,339 drug deaths last year - an increase of 75 from the 1,264 recorded the previous year.  

Laura Wilson, RPS Scotland Policy and Practice Lead, said: “It’s concerning that drug related deaths and hospital admissions continue to rise in Scotland.  Many of these deaths are preventable. Pharmacists, and pharmacy teams, already play a big role in supporting and providing treatment to people who use drugs, as well as offering harm reduction services and advice. The RPS wants to build on this fantastic work by enabling them to do even more to reduce harm from drugs.

“Scotland needs to take action to reduce its high level of drug deaths, and pharmacy is well placed to play a critical role within this.”

RPS Scotland published a policy document in June on pharmacy’s role in reducing drug harms and preventing drug deaths.  The report highlights areas where pharmacy can contribute effectively to the treatment and prevention of drug harms and makes recommendations for how improvements can be achieved.

The report makes 14 recommendations including:

  • Naloxone must be available from every community pharmacy and staff trained to use it.
  • All pharmacists should have access to shared patient records and clear communication pathways with other health care professionals involved in the care of people who use drugs.
  • Regulated Supervised Drug Consumption Rooms (SDCRs) should be introduced and use of Heroin Assisted Treatment (HAT) should be expanded as treatment options with pharmacy input from the start.

Read our report


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