A Lifesaving Overdose Reversal Drug Is Now Available To Take Home For Free
Opioid overdoses can affect anyone: from patients on painkillers, to partygoers on a night out.
An overdose reversal drug is now available for free across Australia without a prescription.
Naloxone is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction to prescription painkillers like codeine and morphine, as well as heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl, Vicodin, and more. Party drugs like cocaine can also be laced with opioids without the user knowing.
A pilot of the Take Home Naloxone program began in December 2019 in NSW, South Australia, and Western Australia, during which it was used nearly 1700 times to reverse an overdose through injection and nasal spray formulations. More than 1000 lives are lost every year from opioid-related deaths, according to triple j Hack.
The Albanese Government announced at the start of the month that it was investing nearly $20 million over the next four years to roll out the program nationally, providing two free doses of the drug — also known as THN — alongside expert administration advice at pharmacies.
Pharmacists say the announcement will remove the cost accessibility barrier to the drug — which usually retails for $40 per dose.
“Naloxone saves lives,” said National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Dr Fei Sim in a statement. “During the pilot, three lives were saved each day, but with wider access we expect to see an even greater impact.”
“Anyone taking opioids for pain management, or caring for someone who does, should collect naloxone from their local pharmacist. We can also provide advice about identifying an opioid withdrawal,” she said, also recommending young people who use recreational drugs to carry naloxone on a night out.
Naloxone only lasts for 30 to 90 minutes, so it is still vital to call an ambulance after administration, warns the Department of Health.
“It could save your life, or the life of a friend,” said Dr Sim.