In 2013 there were 765 deaths involving heroin and morphine in England – a sharp rise of 32% from the previous year. Many of these fatalities could have been prevented by the use of Naloxone as an intervention – this is a safe and effective prescription medicine that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
There is nothing to prevent those at risk of opiate overdose being prescribed Naloxone now, and yet over 50% of local authorities in England do not currently provide it. It is not acceptable that people are dying when there is a cost-effective intervention available. Scotland and Wales both have national programmes which are successfully reducing the number of opiate overdoses in those countries. It is time for Parliament to look at the evidence and take action to support the best possible policy for preventing opiate overdose in England, including the provision of Naloxone.
In May 2012 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that Naloxone should be more widely available. The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued guidelines in November 2014 stating that countries should even “expand naloxone access to people likely to witness an overdose in their community, such as friends, family members, partners of people who use drugs, and social workers”. Despite this, regulations to give effect to the ACMD recommendations are not planned to be implemented until October 2015.
That is why I am asking you, as the chair of the Naloxone Action Group, to write to your MP to sign the Early Day Motion 445 which calls on the Government to prioritise the roll-out of naloxone across the whole of the UK. This is an area of policy that has impact on lives and needs addressing. I would like you to support this call as it is about saving lives.
We have set up an easy way to help you do this which can be found here.
Chair – Naloxone Action Group England