Naloxone will now be available in community pharmacies across Scotland, the Scottish Government has announced.
The £300,000 Emergency Access Naloxone Scheme will see all community pharmacies holding ‘at least two’ naloxone kits – either nasal or injectable.
‘Through our national mission to reduce drug deaths and harms, we have invested more than £3m in widening access to naloxone, including through our emergency services,’ said drugs minister Elena Whitham. ‘Police Scotland recently completed a force-wide rollout to 12,500 officers who have used the kits more than 300 times and, according to the most recent statistics, 70 per cent of those who are at risk of opioid overdose are being provided with a lifesaving kit.’
The new scheme service would be a ‘welcome addition’ to existing services, she said. ‘It provides a substantial increase in life-saving emergency access and I’m grateful to all those in community pharmacies who are supporting our £250m national mission to reduce drug deaths. We’ll also continue to focus on getting more people into the form of treatment and support they need, expand access to residential rehabilitation and drive the rollout of life-saving medication assisted treatment (MAT) standards where we are making significant progress.’
Scotland introduced a national naloxone programme in 2011, the first country to do so. However, while the country’s drug death figure fell by more than 20 per cent last year – to its lowest level since 2017 – it remains almost four times higher than two decades ago and is still the highest in Europe (https://www.drinkanddrugsnews.com/scottish-drug-deaths-down-by-a-fifth/).
Many people in the sector have also warned about the risks associated with powerful synthetic opioids such as nitazenes and fentanyls entering the country’s drug supply. ‘Everyone seems to know that Scotland has an astonishing rate of drug-related deaths and that was before we saw this emerging trend of new synthetic opioids within the heroin supply,’ said Scottish Drugs Forum CEO Kirsten Horsburgh in August. ‘Alarm bells should be ringing all over government and all through the treatment and support services because we are not prepared.’
(Features September 2023) This year the millionth kit of injectable naloxone was distributed. DDN looks back at the story of this lifesaving intervention.
(Features September 2023): Naloxone is safe and easy to use. So let’s get lots more people trained up and carrying it, says Deb Hussey.
(Features February 2023): Turning Point hosted its first Safer Lives conference in Birmingham making a commitment to addressing the drug death crisis.
(News August 2023): An app to highlight places such as pharmacies and needle exchanges that offer free naloxone has been launched by Turning Point and Somerset Council.
(The DDN Conference 2023): Cranstoun’s Worcestershire service talk about their peer-led naloxone team, PACKS – ‘peer-assisted community knowledge and support’.
(News March 2023): Peer-to-peer naloxone programmes can help to reduce stigma and boost confidence, says a new report from the Scottish Drugs Forum