Pharmacists helping communities save lives


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Local pharmacies around NSW, SA and WA are currently taking part in an important community health pilot. The Australian Government's take home naloxone pilot, provides free access to opioid overdose-reversing naloxone to anyone at risk of an opioid overdose, or anyone who may witness an overdose, through participating pharmacies.

When an opioid overdose happens, a person's breathing slows down or stops. Naloxone works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the opioids and temporarily reversing the effects of the overdose. This enables the person to breathe normally while waiting for an Ambulance to arrive.

Naloxone is available through participating local pharmacies, as well as at Needle and Syringe Program sites

Pharmacists are on board

For many pharmacists, participating in the pilot is a simple and easy way they can help prevent harm in their community.

Woolgoolga Pharmacist in Charge, Kate Dean said, "It is a really good idea to use naloxone to try and prevent accidental death from opioids. We are an opioid substitution program participant, so there are some potential patients who would benefit, plus we have a lot of elderly patients who are on opioids."

 "We are in the business of doing our best for our patients and this is one way we can do this." — Kate Dean, Pharmacist in Charge, Woolgoolga NSW

A variety of people in the community can access naloxone to treat an opioid overdose, including those who may witness an overdose, such as family, friends, carers or community members. Kate Dean said, "I offer it to people who take opioids, or care for someone who takes opioids for whatever reason. When you give the stats on deaths due to prescription opioids, most people are really happy to take some home when they understand what it is for."

Take home naloxone comes in various formats including a nasal spray and a pre-filled syringe, both of which are safe and easy for non-medically trained people to administer.

Information for pharmacists

When asked how easy it was to register and be involved in the pilot, Pharmacist Kate Dean says "Extremely easy. Someone talked to me about it and signing up was very easy."

She also described that when supplying naloxone, the processes for collecting information was non-intrusive, explaining that she asks, "whether it is for themselves or someone else, rough age, whether they take any other meds".

The process for participating in the take home naloxone pilot is simple for pharmacists. It involves following these easy steps:

  • register to participate in the pilot through the PPA Portal,
  • order naloxone products through usual pharmaceutical wholesalers,
  • provide free naloxone to anyone at risk of experiencing or witnessing an overdose, explain how to administer it and collect basic de-identified patient data,
  • claim reimbursement through the PPA portal.

For further information for pharmacists visit

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