Objectives: Pharmacies provide accessible sources of naloxone to caregivers, patients taking opioids, and individuals using drugs. While laws permit expanded pharmacy naloxone access, prior work identified barriers like concerns about stigma of addiction and time constraints that inhibit scale-up. We sought to examine similarities and differences in experiences obtaining naloxone at the pharmacy over a 1-year period in 2 states, and to explore reactions from people with opioid use disorder, patients taking opioids for chronic pain, caregivers of opioid users, and pharmacists to communication tools and patient outreach materials designed to improve naloxone uptake.
Design: Eight focus groups (FGs) held December 2016 to April 2017 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Setting and participants: Participants were recruited from pharmacies, health clinics, and community organizations; pharmacists were recruited from professional organizations and pharmacy colleges.
Outcome measures: The FGs were led by trained qualitative researchers using a topic guide and prototypes designed for input. Five analysts applied a coding scheme to transcripts. Thematic analysis involved synthesis of coded data and connections between themes, with comparisons across groups and to first-year findings.
Results: A total of 56 individuals participated: patients taking opioids for chronic pain (n = 13), people with opioid use disorders (n = 15), caregivers (n = 13), and pharmacists (n = 16). Fear of future consequences and stigma in the pharmacy was a prominent theme from the previous year. Four new themes emerged: experience providing pharmacy naloxone, clinician-pharmacist-partnered approaches, naloxone coprescription, and fentanyl as motivator for pharmacy naloxone. Prototypes for prompting consumers about naloxone availability, materials facilitating naloxone conversations, and posters designed to address stigma were well received.
Conclusions: Experiences dispensing naloxone are quickly evolving, and a greater diversity of patients are obtaining pharmacy naloxone. Persistent stigma-related concerns underscore the need for tools to help pharmacists offer naloxone, facilitate patient requests, and provide reassurance when getting naloxone.
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