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Scottish pharmacies to hold Naloxone in national bid to reduce overdose deaths

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The Naloxone Scheme was rolled out through community pharmacies on 30 October

Scottish community pharmacies will now hold two Naloxone kits, available in either nasal spray or injectable form, essential for reversing opioid overdoses.

The Emergency Access Naloxone Scheme, which is backed by £300,000 of Scottish Government funding, began on Monday.

Drugs and Alcohol Policy Minister Elena Whitham said, “Through our National Mission to reduce drug deaths and harms, we have invested more than £3 million in widening access to Naloxone, including through our emergency services.”

“This new nationwide service is a welcome addition to existing services. Police Scotland recently completed a force-wide rollout to 12,500 officers who have used the kits more than 300 times.

According to the most recent statistics, 70 per cent of those who are at risk of opioid overdose are being provided with a lifesaving kit,” she added.

“It provides a substantial increase in life-saving emergency access and I’m grateful to all those in community pharmacies who are supporting our £250 million National Mission to reduce drug deaths,” Whitham said.

The PMR suppliers affirmed that pharmacy IT software will enable pharmacy teams to provide naloxone emergency supply from the launch date.

The community pharmacy contractors must ensure that their pharmacy teams complete the e-learning module for naloxone emergency supply, available on the NES TURAS Learn website.

Community Pharmacy Scotland incoming CEO Matt Barclay said, “CPS is pleased to have community pharmacy participating in delivering this key role to support a reduction in drug deaths across Scotland.

“It once again sees community pharmacy at the heart of the community, delivering care for the citizens of Scotland,” he added.

In a July 2022 report, the Drug Death Taskforce suggested that all community pharmacies should have naloxone available for emergency use.

They should also be capable of providing take-home naloxone (THN) to individuals who use drugs, their families, and anyone likely to witness an opioid overdose.

A Scottish Government NHS circular also indicated that a Take Home Naloxone (THN) service through pharmacies will follow later.

Moreover, a new universal claim framework (UCF) module will be accessible for claims when naloxone kits are dispensed or expire.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s drug death rate remains the highest in Europe, despite National Records of Scotland statistics in August indicating drug deaths in 2022 had fallen to their lowest since 2017, to 1,051.

The following month Scottish government figures indicated suspected drug deaths rose in the first six months of 2023, with 600 such fatalities between January to June – 7 per cent higher than the same time in 2022.

In August, the UK Home Affairs Committee urged the government to overhaul its existing drug policy, shifting from a strictly ‘abstinence only’ approach to a more pragmatic strategy that emphasises harm reduction.

The committee’s suggestions also included the implementation of a national naloxone program in England, where community pharmacies would play a pivotal role in enabling access.

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