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Eur Addict Res. 2007;13(1):50-6.

The role of pharmacies in the care of drug users: what has changed in ten years. The case of a Swiss region.

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  • 1University Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne, Switzerland.


This article assesses changes over 10 years in the role of pharmacies in the care of drug misusers--needle/syringe provision and methadone treatment supervision--in the Swiss French-speaking Canton of Vaud (636,000 inhabitants, 238 pharmacies). A review of data collected in four surveys (1991, 1994, 1996, 2003) on the provision of sterile material (and methadone treatment supervision in 2003) including all the pharmacists of the Canton of Vaud was conducted, as well as a review of data of the monitoring of needle exchange programmes introduced since 1996 in this canton, and of methadone treatment statistics. In 2003, interviews with pharmacists complemented the survey. Pharmacies play an important role in the 'frontline' services to drug misusers: the provision of needles/syringes to drug users by pharmacies remains important in spite of a decrease in the provision of sterile material by them since the advent of needle exchange programmes, and they are included in the supervision of two thirds of the methadone treatments. However, they do not feel integrated enough in the network of care to drug misusers and ask for more training and better recognition of their role.

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