A4 - Harm reduction: Getting from policy to outcomes

Paris 2

Organised by the FIP Social and Administrative Pharmacy Section in collaboration with FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section & Hospital Pharmacy Section


Marwan Akel, Lebanese International University, Lebanon


In 2018, the FIP Council adopted a Statement of Policy entitled “The role of pharmacists in reducing harm associated with drugs of abuse” in Glasgow (https://www.fip.org/www/uploads/database_file.php?id=404&table_id=). The Statement called on pharmacists and member organisations to (a) “develop and provide a comprehensive range of nationally-appropriate harm reduction services, such as syringe and needle exchange programmes, opioid substitution therapy, medication-assisted treatment, the supply of naloxone as a means to manage inadvertent overdose, and health promotion services, including sexual and reproductive health services”; (b) “engage with policymakers and health authorities in identifying any barriers to the increased involvement of pharmacists in the provision of nationally-appropriate harm reduction services, including maximising the potential contribution of pharmacists through collaborative practice arrangements”; and (c) “where appropriate, engage with policymakers and health authorities around the question of marijuana (cannabis) for medicinal purposes, with a view to contributing to rational and effective policies in this regard”. Corresponding actions were advocated for governments, and FIP committed to “continue to advocate for a considered, pharmacy-inclusive, but evidence-informed approach to the development of public policy on drugs of abuse”. There is, however, no institutionalised way for FIP to track progress in implementing its Statements of Policy, or to learn from the experiences of individual pharmacists and member organisations as they attempt to advance the positions advocated by FIP. Despite the evidence to support a harm reduction approach to drugs of abuse, such services remain under-developed in many settings and face considerable opposition. There is a global shift in public policy with regard to medicinal cannabis, which is posing challenges to many regulatory authorities but also to individual pharmacists and their member organisations. This session will focus on the implementation of harm reduction policies in 3 selected countries, particularly highlighting the extent to which pharmacists and their member organisations have been involved in advocating for positions that are aligned with the FIP Statement. The presentations will focus not only on the elements identified in the FIP Statement, but to the processes that have been followed and the various methods pharmacists and their organisations have used to advance their positions. The session will identify barriers to the development of considered, pharmacy-inclusive, evidence-informed public policy. More broadly, the session will provide a forum for engagement with the broader question of how FIP should track implementation of its Statements and how best it can support pharmacist and their member organisations in this regard. Those attending the session will brainstorm ideas for a considered process of tracking implementation of FIP Statements in future.


  1. How does harm reduction fit into Canada’s opioid guidelines?
    Christine Hughes, University of Alberta, Canada
  2. Methadone as an essential medicine: Challenges in South Africa
    Andy Gray, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  3. Lessons learned from Portugal in implementing harm reduction
    Maria Álvares, Scientific Board of Cannativa, Portugal

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. Contrast the relative successes and failures in developing pharmacy-inclusive, evidence-informed harm reduction policies in the selected countries
  2. Identify the barriers and enablers to the involvement of pharmacists in the development of public policy
  3. Select lessons learned from these experiences to apply in their own settings, in relation to harm reduction policies and more broadly
  4. Advocate for a considered process of tracking the implementation of FIP Statements and learning from such experiences

Type of session: Application-based