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Access to life saving medicine naloxone now easier

7/11/2019


Woman talking to counsellor

From 1 November 2019 Nyxoid®, a naloxone nasal spray product became available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Naloxone is a life-saving short-acting 'opioid antagonist' medicine used to treat an opioid overdose.

Without subsidy Nyxoid® would cost over $48 per course but will now be available for around $6.50 per script with a concession card.

Naloxone is a short-acting medicine that can temporarily reverse an overdose caused by opioid drugs (like heroin, or strong painkillers that contain morphine or oxycodone). A dose of naloxone can help a person to breathe properly and regain consciousness after they've had too much of an opioid drug.

Every day in Australia three people die from drug-induced deaths involving opioid use, and nearly 150 hospitalisations and 14 emergency department admissions involve opioid harm.

Prescription opioids are now responsible for more deaths and hospitalisations in Australia than illegal opioids such as heroin.

Further positive moves in increasing access to naloxone include the announcement of a $10 million PBS subsidised Take Home Naloxone pilot in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

The Take Home Naloxone pilot aims to improve access and uptake of naloxone, by providing it for free and without a prescription, from a wide variety of locations including: community and hospital-based pharmacies; alcohol and other drug treatment centres; needle and syringe programs; custodial release programs; and GP clinic access.

Nyxoid® will also be made available as an option for the Take Home Naloxone pilot. The Take Home Naloxone pilot will target individuals who use illicit and/or prescription opioids who are at risk of an opioid overdose, and family or community members who are likely to witness an opioid overdose.

The Take Home Naloxone pilot is expected to commence from 1 December 2019 and run through to 28 February 2021.

NSW also currently has the NSW Health Opioid Overdose Response and Take Home Naloxone intervention.

Trained health workers at Needle Syringe Programs and Alcohol & Other Drugs services in NSW can supply take home naloxone at no cost to the consumer, carer or family member, and provide a brief intervention about how to use the medicine.

Two formulations of naloxone are being provided in this intervention – a pre-filled injectable product called Prenoxad® and the Nyxoid® intranasal spray.

Anyone who is at risk of overdosing on opioid drugs, or witnessing an opioid overdose, should consider having naloxone at home, so an overdose can start to be reversed quickly, even before an Ambulance arrives.  Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system there will be no harmful effect if opioids are absent.

For further information, please contact NSW Ministry of Health at MOH-naloxone@health.nsw.gov.au.

For free and confidential advice give an Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) counsellor a call on 1800 250 015, they are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to provide confidential support and advice.

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