Legislative changes are planned to make the opioid antagonist naxalone available to more healthcare workers and in more settings

Drgug abuse

The opioid antagonist naloxone could soon be made available to more health and front-line workers under new plans to tackle the record high drug-related deaths in the UK.

An 8-week consultation has been launched by the Government to amend current regulations to allow naloxone to be supplied and administered by a wider group of people regularly coming into contact with drug users in the community to help save more lives from opioid overdoses.

Currently, although naloxone can be legally administered by anyone during an emergency, its supply is tightly controlled and only available through prescription. Aside from an emergency situation, it is only commissioned drug treatment services that are able to obtain and supply naloxone to individuals without a prescription or other written authorisation. This consultation seeks to change that.

Under the proposal, midwives, registered nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, police officers, and prison officers are among the professions that would be given access to the drug, as well as outreach, day services, and accommodation for substance users and people who experience homelessness.

The proposed legislative changes would apply throughout the UK.

The move comes after the Government launched a new Joint Combating Drugs Unit and committed to publish an ambitious new drug strategy later this year to tackle drug misuse across society, in response to Dame Carol Black’s landmark independent review on drugs.

Drug-related deaths have doubled since 2012, with the latest statistics showing record numbers of opiate-related deaths across the UK.

England’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: ‘Drug misuse destroys lives and has a devastating impact on people’s health, their livelihoods and their families.

‘To prevent people dying from drug abuse we need to make sure the right treatment and medicines are available, which is why we’re launching this consultation on naloxone today [3 August 2021].’

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.