This current proposal builds on a Vancouver Foundation Develop Grant (UNR15-0134) held by Wallace (with Pauly) in which we were immersed in community when drug overdose become a public health crisis and our results informing responses. Also, a NSERC Engage grant supported a unique partnership and the creation of a spectrometer drug testing instrument by the Co-investigator (Hore) with Vincent at STS Pharmacy. The advancement is novel due to the cost-effectiveness of the invention which allows for unprecedented scale-up and integration. Most recently, Wallace, Hore and Vincent were successful in an application to the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy’s Innovation program to implement this technology, pilot drug checking and build capacity in Victoria BC.
Our proposal pairs the piloting of this innovation in drug checking with community-based research through the partnership with AIDS Vancouver Island and its Street College program. Specifically, we will engage people who use drugs (PWUD) in research that can inform how drug checking can effectively be implemented and integrated in harm reduction. There is a lack of knowledge on many aspects of implementation such as; who may use or not use such services, what barriers exist to using the services, how individuals will respond to test results, how drug checking could impact the toxic illicit drug market, what opportunities drug checking may hold for reducing stigma, increasing access to supports, and develop relationships.