Make naloxone available through take-home programs: expert


heroin on spoon and syringe for naloxone stories

Naloxone must become available through take-home programs without the need for doctor or pharmacist involvement, say Australian experts in a report published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

The drug was recently downscheduled to Pharmacist Only following an application to the TGA by Brunswick pharmacist and PSA Harm Minimisation Committee member Angelo Pricolo.

Professor Simon Lenten, deputy director of the National Drug Research Institute in Perth, and his coauthors, wrote in an MJA Perspective that take-home naloxone programs “currently provide naloxone via prescription, typically engaging a doctor to attend small-group training sessions”.

“The doctor must then review participants, and both prescribe and dispense the medication,” they write.

“While OTC access removes the need for a doctor’s prescription, the requirement for dispensing by a doctor or pharmacist remains.

“Access to naloxone will be maximised when those providing instructions for use (including, for example, allied health or peer workers) also provide the medication.

“Thus rescheduling to Schedule 3 does little to simplify dispensing arrangements for current THN programs.”

THN programs are designed to help manage opioid overdose events in the pre-hospital setting, the authors wrote.

“The programs involve training potential overdose witnesses in overdose response (including naloxone administration) and then prescribing and distributing naloxone to potential overdose victims for later use in an overdose situation.

“raining typically includes education on risk factors for opioid overdose, signs of opioid overdose, basic life support and overdose response, including resuscitation techniques, calling for an ambulance, administration of naloxone, and post-naloxone management.”

Naloxone is still available on prescription, at a discount.

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