Pharmacists welcome publication of National Drugs Strategy

  • Access to treatment for drug users is vital

Monday 17 July 2017: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has welcomed today’s publication of a National Drugs Strategy. 

Noting the proposal to establish a Working Group to explore the response taken in other jurisdictions to the possession for small quantities of drugs for personal use, Daragh Connolly, community pharmacist and IPU President, said, “Pharmacists have argued that the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use should be treated as a health problem rather than a criminal issue and that people with drug problems should be given the same level of care as people with other health issues.” 

Mr Connolly said that addressing the drug problem in Ireland is a balancing act between preventing illicit use of drugs and associated health problems, and ensuring access to treatment for those addicted to drugs. “The World Health Organisation has acknowledged that people with drug disorders deserve the same level of care as patients with any other health condition. Health services need to be able to identify drug use and drug use disorders at an early stage and provide prevention, treatment and harm reduction interventions,” added Mr Connolly.

Mr Connolly said that, for people who are not yet dependent on drugs, efforts should focus on preventing dependence and reducing the harm associated with drug use. “For people suffering from drug dependence, health systems have to provide access to comprehensive treatment including psychosocial support, pharmacotherapy and the prevention and management of associated health problems such as HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, mental health disorders and drug overdose.”

“Pharmacists are the appropriate profession to lead this changing approach. We already provide opiate substitution using methadone; we provide needle exchange services in areas of need and we provide a crucial point of contact with healthcare for those whose problems have made them outsiders in our society. We want to do more and we are ready to do more,” he concluded.


Note to Editors: The Irish Pharmacy Union is the representative and professional body for community pharmacists in Ireland. It has over 2,200 pharmacist members and represents 95% of community pharmacies in Ireland.

Further information: Jim Curran, IPU Director of Communications & Strategy, 086 264 0469

Issued by: Paula Curtin, MKC Communications, 087 410 9910