ID: HR23-504
Presenting author: Scott Elliott

Presenting author biography:

Scott Elliott has over 30 years’ experience designing and implementing innovative community engagement programs in the non-profit sector. He is motivated by a deep desire to make transformative change in the lives of people with HIV, mental illness, addiction, poverty, and complex health needs.

A Roadmap for Implementing Injectable Opioid Agonist Therapy: Learnings from a Three-Year Pilot Project

Scott Elliott, Rosalind Baltzer Turje, Patrick McDougall, Cheryl McDermid, Damon Hassan, Courtney Pankratz
BACKGROUND: Since COVID-19, Canada has experienced an unprecedented number of accidental drug toxicity deaths. Injectable opioid agonist therapy (iOAT) is a promising treatment option for people who use drugs (PWUD) that provides prescription grade opioids as a replacement to an increasingly toxic street supply. iOAT is also linked to increased anti-retroviral (ART) initiation and adherence, and decreased HIV viral loads among people living with HIV (PLHIV). Scaling up iOAT services may help to circumvent the devastating impact that dual public health emergencies have had on PWUD and PLHIV.

DESCRIPTION: The Dr. Peter Centre (DPC) is one of few community agencies in North America to implement iOAT services. DPC has been tracking lessons learned and mobilizing knowledge gained to expedite the efforts of organizations in the early stages of iOAT implementation. There are particular considerations for community agencies implementing iOAT services that include establishing strategic partnerships and developing policies and practices that meet regulatory requirements.

LESSONS LEARNED: To mobilize the spread of iOAT services across Canada, this presentation will share findings from a process evaluation of the implementation of iOAT within a community agency setting. It will discuss key learnings for community agencies seeking guidance on the implementation of iOAT, including opportunities for funding, sourcing medications, addressing iOAT prescriber shortages, establishing partnerships with local pharmacy teams, and navigating complex regulatory requirements.

CONCLUSIONS: iOAT is an effective treatment option that reduces the risk of overdose and HIV transmission for PWUD and improves treatment outcomes among PLHIV. With the unprecedented and relentless rise in overdose deaths exacerbated by COVID19, there is a need for the rapid implementation of iOAT services in diverse community settings. By sharing key learnings, this presentation aims to expedite the start-up and roll out of iOAT services for community agencies across Canada, contributing to a decrease in overdose deaths.