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Take-home naloxone works

Tracy Parish

31 August, 2016

“We spend billions on reducing the road toll; time we invested in reducing overdose deaths.”

That was the challenge from Burnet’s Professor Paul Dietze at the conclusion of an insightful CREIDU Colloquium in Melbourne on Overdose Awareness Day.

‘Take-home naloxone: Scaling up in a time of uncertain supply’ was the focus of today’s engaging Colloquium, which brought together some of Australia’s leading researchers, community organisations, advocates and peer educators to discuss ‘what’s next for naloxone?’ Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.

Deputy Head of Burnet’s Centre for Population Health, Professor Dietze highlighted the challenges facing the sector in the wake of the ‘take-home naloxone’ UCB400mg Minijet being delisted from the PBS in June of this year.

Professor Dietze said recent changes to the manufacture and distribution of naloxone in Australia had prompted a rethink about the options available for consumers.

“The problem we have is that the manufacturer of the ‘minijet’ form used widely in Australia has pulled out, and we haven’t really got a suitable alternative yet,” he said.

“That’s one of the big barriers we face at the moment.

“We’re going to be moving towards using ampules rather than pre-filled syringes, and we really need to start looking at other alternatives."

Senior Research Fellow from the University of NSW, Dr Suzanne Nielsen highlighted the barriers to supplying take-home naloxone for community pharmacies.

More than 1300 pharmacists were approached in February 2016 to participate in a survey of their attitudes and challenges to supplying over-the-counter take-home naloxone, but less than half participated.

Dr Nielsen said 70 percent of pharmacists surveyed acknowledged they have a role to play in overdose prevention.

Of those surveyed, 90 percent of pharmacists were more willing to dispense naloxone on a GPs prescription, but the majority were reluctant to dispense naloxone over-the-counter.

However Dr Neilsen said that this may have been due to competing pressures for pharmacists and they needed further support.

IMAGE: Professor Nicholas Lintzeris from The University of Sydney

The University of Sydney’s Professor Nicholas Lintzeris pointed out that translating take-home naloxone from a good idea to mainstream practice was still needed in Australia.

“We know naloxone works but how do we make it happen in public health and acknowledge that people are overdosing?” he said.

“That still needs to be addressed.”

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Paul Dietze

Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks

Telephone

+61392822134

Email

paul.dietze@burnet.edu.au

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