The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomes the national rollout of the Take Home Naloxone (THN) program, which allows pharmacists to provide free naloxone from 1 July.
Naloxone rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose or adverse reaction and can be administered by injection or via a nasal spray.
Under the national program naloxone will be available across Australia for free and without a prescription, to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.
PSA National President Dr Fei Sim says that pharmacists will be key to a successful rollout because of their accessibility and expertise.
“Naloxone saves lives,” she said. “During the pilot three lives were saved each day, but with wider access we expect to see an even greater impact.
“As our most accessible healthcare professionals, community pharmacists will play a critical role in ensuring that every Australian can access this life saving medicine.
“One dose of naloxone previously cost around $40, but from 1 July anyone can walk into their local pharmacy and receive two free doses of naloxone, as well as expert advice from pharmacists about how to administer it.
“The naloxone trial showed us that we can reduce the harm caused by excessive opioid use by making medicines like naloxone more accessible and removing cost barriers.
“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 overdose.
“Over recent years we have seen more cases of illicit party drugs being spiked with acetyl-fentanyl which can cause opioid overdoses even in small amounts.
“We are urging young people who use recreational drugs like cocaine to visit their local pharmacy and carry naloxone on a night out. Your pharmacist is there to provide judgement-free, expert advice, on when and how to use this life-saving drug.
“It could save your life, or the life of a friend.”
Take home naloxone will also be available through non-pharmacy sites such as alcohol and drug treatment centres and needle and syringe programs in New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia from 1 July 2022, and in Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, and the ACT from 1 November 2022.