A pilot program has been launched to provide opioid users with free take-home nasal naloxone to rapidly reverse overdose.
Naloxone nasal spray (Nyxoid) has been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and will be made available free from pharmacies in some states to people deemed at high risk of experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose.
Naloxone has already been available as an injection on prescription but the cost, access issues and lack of training in its use have proved a barrier to its uptake by at-risk people.
The government says the new scheme is aimed at having an ready-to-use naloxone formulation in place in the home setting to help prevent some of the 150 daily hospitalisations and three deaths due to opioid overdoses in Australia.
The Take Home Naloxone pilot will run from 1 December 2019 to 28 February 2021, and will operate from various health services in NSW, South Australia and Western Australia.
Pharmacies, doctors and hospital pharmacies in all states and territories can still supply naloxone if they don’t register for the pilot, to someone with a prescription or over the counter from a pharmacy for a fee
Naloxone can be prescribed for people at risk of opioid overdose, including those taking prescription opioids for chronic pain, people who use illicit opioid drugs (and substitutes such as methadone) and people accessing detox and rehab services.