Attitudes and perceptions of naloxone dispensing among a sample of Massachusetts community pharmacy technicians

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Objectives: There is limited research on the attitudes of pharmacy technicians toward pharmacy naloxone provision, despite their widespread role in the pharmacy. We examined attitudes and perceptions of pharmacy technicians in the provision of naloxone in a sample of Massachusetts pharmacies. Design: Thirty-nine community retail pharmacies from 1 U.S. chain were purposely sampled in 13 municipalities across Massachusetts. Pharmacies were divided into high-risk municipalities (HRMs) versus low-risk municipalities (LRMs) based on the state average opioid-related death rate from 2011 to 2015. Setting and participants: A pharmacy technician working in each pharmacy was administered an in-person survey. Survey topics included technician beliefs about current naloxone provision practices; patient groups at greater risk of overdose; whether individuals filling prescriptions would benefit from naloxone; and whether individuals purchasing syringes would benefit from naloxone. Outcome measures: Closed-ended responses were analyzed by Mann-Whitney U, Fisher exact, and chi-square tests. Open-ended responses were summarized for themes and then contrasted by municipality risk status. Results: Technician participation was 100% (n = 39). Technicians in both groups believed they could identify patient groups at risk of overdose in their practice, but HRM technicians recognized the need for naloxone for more of their at-risk patients (81% in HRM vs. 33% in LRM believed > 25% of patients need naloxone, P < 0.01). A willingness to provide naloxone was high (> 89%) in both groups. Open-ended responses revealed commonalities between groups, including the belief that patients need lower-cost naloxone, and a lack of patient and technician awareness that naloxone could prevent overdose in individuals at risk through use of prescription opioids not just through use of illicit drugs. Conclusion: Pharmacy technicians would benefit from overdose prevention training and are well positioned to recognize overdose risk and offer preventive interventions, such as naloxone. Among technicians, there is a high willingness to be involved in implementing broader naloxone access in pharmacies.

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association