New guidance widens the availability of Naloxone in England

 

Naloxone is a drug which inhibits the opioid receptors in the brain and stops any opioids (such as heroin, methadone and morphine) already in the user’s system from activating the receptors. This provides an opportunity to recover from an otherwise potentially fatal overdose.

However, the working period for the Naloxone is generally shorter than that of the original opioid, so it is still possible for user to overdose again once the Naloxone has worn off.

Naloxone is currently a prescription-only medication that can not be sold as an over the counter product. However, drug treatment services can supply Naloxone to anyone who may be in a position to ‘save a life in an emergency’. For example:

  • an outreach worker

  • a hostel manager

  • a drug user at risk

  • a carer, friend or family member of a drug user at risk

  • an individual working in an environment where there is a risk of overdose for which the Naloxone may be useful

The guidance was updated in February 2019 to include nasal Naloxone. Nasal Naloxone allows for a single dose spray to be administered through one nostril in the emergency of a known or suspected opioid overdose.

The amended regulations allow for an alternative to the injectable form of Naloxone, which Chair of NHS SMPA, Danny Hames, says will increase availability and usability within the country.

“Broadening the availability of nasal Naloxone is a valuable and useful addition to the toolkit of those service users and staff who are doing their best to broaden antidote availability.”

“A fundamental benefit of increasing availability will be the capability to provide an alternative to the injectable form of Naloxone. This means that providers, particularly partner agencies who wish to carry Naloxone, will be offered a viable alternative to administration of the injectable form.”

Danny also stated that despite great strides in making Naloxone more easily available, a national policy approach, backed by additional funding, is needed within England:

“This would greatly enhance the availability of nasal and injectable Naloxone across the country. As a service provider, it’s important that we help as many people as possible. The greater the availability, the more funding and policy provided, the greater number of lives that could be saved by use of Naloxone in the case of emergency.”

To learn more about Naloxone and the promotion of Naloxone kits, visit our blog: https://www.nhs-substance-misuse-provider-alliance.org.uk/blog/why-should-we-be-promoting-naloxone-kits

To read Naloxone’s full guidance document, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/widening-the-availability-of-naloxone/widening-the-availability-of-naloxone