The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has released a report examining the availability and use of naloxone in the UK, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.
The advisory follows a self-commission by ACMD members in 2019 after an uptick in deaths related to opioid overdoses.
The report presents evidence that administration of naloxone leads to a reduction in these types of deaths, but it also concluded that further work is needed to increase the availability and use of this drug.
The report made the following recommendations to the government:
Improve the quality of data on take-home naloxone and ensure that local authority commissioners monitor how it is provided by service providers.
Further research should be undertaken to see how people at risk of overdose can more easily access take-home naloxone.
The good examples of working in partnership cited in the report should be used to model naloxone programs across the UK.
Prison services should ensure that people leaving prison who are at high risk of overdose have access to take-home naloxone.
Additional training for police on the possession and administration of naloxone should be provided and police services should register for the exemptions required to provide take-out naloxone.
Hospitals, mental health trusts and ambulance services should provide take-home naloxone and training for those at risk of overdose. Guidelines should be updated to include appropriate recommendations on the provision of naloxone.
There should be agreements across the UK that allow community pharmacies to deliver naloxone on the go and intervene in the management of opioid overdoses.
The ACMD previously reviewed the use and availability of naloxone in 2012 and recommended that it be made more widely available.
In 2015 the government introduced changes to the Human Medicines Amendment Regulations (2012) which expanded the availability of naloxone in the UK, but this report hopes to encourage a further increase in the availability and use of naloxone.
Professor Owen Bowden-Jones, ACMD President, said:
We are happy to share our findings on take-home naloxone today. Naloxone is a life-saving drug and it is crucial that it is easily accessible to those at risk. Only a national and intersectoral approach will make this possible.
We look forward to the government’s response to this report and our findings.
Read the ACMD review on naloxone.