Vernon's Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy first in IH to check illicit drugs

Pharmacy checking drugs

The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Vernon is breaking new ground when it comes to checking the safety of illicit drugs.

It’s like any neighbourhood pharmacy, with all the regular offerings, but the Medicine Shoppe also provides a free drug-checking service.

It's the first service of its kind offered at a pharmacy in the B.C. Interior.

“Drug-checking services allow us, in the face of the toxic drug crisis, to monitor what is happening with the illicit drug supply. Otherwise, we don’t know until it’s too late,” said Jessica Bridgeman, Interior Health’s manager of harm reduction.

Since June 2023, the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy has been testing street drugs.

“We provide the drug-checking service, which means people can bring in any sort of illicit substance and we test them,” said Veronica Riguedell, pharmacy and drug-checking technician with the Medicine Shoppe.

“We run them through an FTIR machine, which gives me a spectrograph, or a picture, of what the drug looks like with light infused through it. I’m able to use that, with my libraries, to break down what substances are inside of that particular drug sample that’s been brought in.”

It is hoped the new service will reduce the stigma around using substances and allow people to safely check their drugs.

“Being at a pharmacy creates a unique opportunity to be even more discreet than some of our other locations. You could be at a pharmacy for a lot of different reasons, so we hope that increases people’s trust to come in and check their drugs, and not feel people know why they’re here,” said Bridgeman.

“People should be able to know what they’re using. With that information, they can make informed decisions about how they want to use, how much they want to use, or whether or not they want to use it at all.”

The Medicine Shoppe is located at 100-3605 31 St.

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