Increasing access to life-saving medication
Drug Deaths Taskforce funds ‘take-home naloxone’ programme.
Ambulance paramedics are to give patients at risk of a drugs overdose medication which could save their life as part of a pilot scheme in Glasgow.
Scotland’s Drug Deaths Taskforce is funding the three-month ‘take-home naloxone’ trial which will see those treated by paramedics for a non-fatal overdose who don’t want to go to hospital given a naloxone kit to take away.
Training will be given on how to use the drug which can reverse the effect of an opioid overdose. The medication can then be used in the event of any future overdose before the ambulance arrives, reducing the risk of death.
Five hundred kits have been provided to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) for the Glasgow pilot.
The trial will be evaluated and, if successful, it could be made permanent and extended to other areas of Glasgow and Scotland.
During a visit to SAS in Springburn, Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:
“This pilot scheme is one of a range of actions the Drug Deaths Taskforce is taking to address the public health emergency Scotland faces in terms of drug-related deaths.
“We know from the evidence that having naloxone available can and does save lives, but we also know from our database that around half of those whose death was drug-related had also suffered a non-fatal overdose at some point.
“Supplying naloxone kits through our teams of paramedics following a non-fatal overdose is just one more important action we can take to provide support to people at a time of crisis.”
Scottish Ambulance Service medical director Jim Ward said:
”We are committed to improving outcomes for all patients and our paramedics and ambulance clinicians often respond to emergencies to treat people who are experiencing an accidental overdose from drug use.
“This is a vital project that has the potential to help save lives – we are pleased that we will be on the front line in efforts to cut the death rate in Scotland from drug overdose, by offering this additional patient safety intervention.”
Scotland was the first country in the world to introduce a national naloxone programme, with the Scottish Government providing more than £1 million in funding between 2011-2016 - empowering individuals, families, friends and communities to reverse an opiate overdose. This programme came to an end when new legislation was introduced allowing certain drug and alcohol treatment services to provide take-home naloxone to those who requested it.
The Scottish Government supports the embedding of naloxone provision in local NHS health board areas and now works closely with local partners to ensure naloxone provision remains a priority and is accessible for those who most need it.