Take-home naloxone from October 2015

Naloxone, which can be effective in reversing heroin overdoses, is, from the 1 October 2015, more readily available for those that need it. Although naloxone will remain a prescription only medicine, the legislative change will crucially mean people working in drug treatment services are able to supply the drug, without a prescription, to anyone needing it to stop a heroin overdose. In addition to previous legislation, from 1 October 2015:

Naloxone can be supplied by a drug treatment service to any individual needing it for saving a life in an emergency.

So it can be supplied without prescription to:

  • someone who is using or has previously used opiates (illicit or prescribed) and is at potential risk of overdose
  • a carer, family member or friend liable to be on hand in case of overdose
  • a named individual in a hostel (or other facility where drug users gather and might be at risk of overdose), which could be
  • a manager or other staff

There is no need for the usual Prescription Only Medicine requirements, just a requirement that the supply is suitably recorded.

Public Health England has previously issued advice for commissioners of services on how naloxone can be supplied locally and further information about the legislation change can be found here.

Media release: Why is a life saving, recommended and licensed medicine being ignored?

Photo by Flickr user Mannaz

Stephen Malloy with naloxone by Flickr user Mannaz

Experts on heroin use are concerned that drug users and their families in England are being denied access to a life-saving medicine: naloxone, an antidote to heroin overdoses.

The Office for National Statistics have reported that opioid overdose deaths in England have risen by 32% in 2013. Naloxone Action Group England (NAG) are calling for urgent action to ensure that overdose deaths return to the previous downward trend.

There is nothing to prevent those at risk of opiate overdose being prescribed naloxone now, and yet over 50% of local authorities, who are now responsible for commissioning drug treatment in England, do not currently provide it. Scotland and Wales both have national programmes, which are successfully reducing the number of opiate overdoses in those countries.

In May 2012 the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) advised that the Government should ease the restrictions on who can be supplied with naloxone and should investigate how people supplied with naloxone can be suitably trained to administer it in an emergency and respond to overdoses.

The government have now responded to this recommendation and have said that new regulations are being prepared by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which will come into effect in October 2015.

John Jolly, Chair of NAG England, said:

“Local authorities in England can already take action to ensure that take home naloxone is made available in their area. But too many areas are failing to provide this life saving medicine and urgent action is needed to ensure wider access for those at risk of overdose, their peers, and families. That is why we are calling for the government to introduce a national programme as there is in the rest of the UK.”

You can help by sending your MP a pre-worded email asking them 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.

Sign up to become a signatory showing your support for the NAG England campaign to make Naloxone more accessible.