Good news on naloxone, for some

The extension of the take-home naloxone pilot doesn’t go far enough, one expert says

The Government announced in Tuesday’s Budget that it will provide $3.9 million in 2021‑22 to extend the Take Home Naloxone Program trial.

This will make naloxone available for people who are at risk of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction and their carers, friends and family members in Western Australia, NSW and South Australia until 30 June 2022, it announced.

Addiction medicine pharmacist and former National Councillor of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Angelo Pricolo welcomed the news, but said more needed to be done.

It was, “Great news to hear that the take-home naloxone pilot has been extended in the budget…for some,” Mr Pricolo told the AJP.

“It is very disappointing that this announcement did not include an extension to cover the jurisdictions that currently have been excluded.

“In these less fortunate jurisdictions different levels of importance and funds have been allocated to enable only partial access to this life saving-drug.”

Mr Pricolo noted that Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will be appearing at the Australian Pharmacy Professional conference on the Gold Coast next week.

“I hope he can address this discrepancy and explain if the pilot extension validates the next step, which is access around the entire country,” he said.

“Maybe allowing all pharmacies and their patients across the nation access via the PBS, an almost 6000-strong network, could be piloted?

“Opioid safety continues to be a major concern and many people on prescribed doses can fall into overdose danger without even knowing.

“It can be as simple as a drug interaction or even a change in their condition that could trigger such an episode.

“This reality exists in every state and jurisdiction and we all really hope this is acknowledged and acted on quickly.”

In its response to the Federal Budget on Tuesday night, the Pharmacy Guild welcomed the extension of the naloxone pilot.

However it also said it was disappointed at the Government’s lack of recognition of Australians who need a nationally consistent and affordable Opioid Replacement Therapy program.

 “They are some of the most disadvantaged patients in the country, and the divergent set of State-run programs and lack of either Federal or State funding has meant that access to this program is unaffordable for many of them,” said national president Professor Trent Twomey.

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