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Drug checking service at Vernon pharmacy a first in B.C. Interior

The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy is providing the service amid the toxic drug crisis
A drug sample being tested at the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Vernon. (Interior Health photo)

Behind the counter of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Vernon is something unique: a drug checking service for anyone to use, designed to help mitigate the toxic drug crisis.

The drug checking service is the first of its kind 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 Interior Health’s manager of harm reduction, Jessica Bridgeman.

The pharmacy has been performing the service since June 2023.

“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 Pharmacy.

“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.”

Both Interior Health and the pharmacy hope the new service will reduce stigma around using substances while allowing 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.

“We’re in a unique position, because we have the opportunity to enable more people to access this service who would otherwise be concerned about stigma attached to other places the service has been offered before,” added Riguedell.

Anyone who would like to have their drugs checked can visit the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Vernon at 3605 31st Street, or visit for more information about other drug-checking locations.

- With files from Interior Health

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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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