Local pharmacies hope to be in program to cut drug trafficking

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Two Petrolia pharmacies say they want to be involved in a new program to keep fentanyl off the streets.

But it may be a few months before the Patch 4 Patch program will be up and running.

Sarnia Police Det. Const. Michael Howell recently told Lambton County councillors about the program the city police and the Lambton OPP are introducing across the region.

Howell says fentanyl has become “a very serious problem in Sarnia-Lambton.

“We have the same death rate (from fentanyl overdoes) as London, which is three times our population,” says Howlett. “Fifty per cent of new methodone clients are fentanyl users.”

Fentanyl is a legitimate painkiller often given to people suffering from long-term illnesses or cancer. “Patches, when they are worn and used legitimately still retain 60 to 80 per cent of the original dose,” he says.

Those used patches end up on the street, sometimes sold by legitimate prescription holders. “To abuse the drug you have to destroy the patch,” he says.

So the Patch 4 Patch program – which has been used in other communities with great success – forces prescription holders to return all of their used patches to receive the next batch.

If they’re selling them on the street, Howlett says it will become obvious. “As they abuse it there is nothing left for them to return.”

The officer says the Sarnia Police and the OPP are working with doctors and pharmacists to roll out the program, although it is not clear how long that will take.

Howlett does add it is important all pharmacies and doctors are part of the program or the drugs will still make their way onto the streets.

Two Petrolia pharmacies say they have heard of the program and plan to be a part of it.

Steve Churchman of Hogan’s Pharmacy in Petrolia says they hope to have the program up and running by August.

Bob Newman of Lambton Pharmacy also plans to be part of it, but says he’s only heard about the program so far from news reports. “It’s for the safety of everybody and it would cut down on the abuse of drugs for everyone,” says Newman. “We will certainly take part when it does happen.”

But Newman says it will take much coordination with doctors and some guidance from his professional association on how to deal with the used patches, to make the program work.

“I applaud the policy’s intent. It will be good when all the parties are on the same page because certainly we recognize that fentanyl is a major drug of abuse now across the province.”

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