Call for opioid antidote to be available without prescription

Niamh Cahill | 09 Aug 2018 | 1 Comment(s)

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A GP specialising in substance abuse has called on the Government to provide naloxone to drug-users and their families without prescription.

According to Dublin GP Dr Garrett McGovern, naloxone, which can reverse the effects of overdose from opioid drugs such as heroin, should be handed out “like condoms” in order to help save lives.

“In the same way the needle exchange service is provided and like condoms are given out, I think naloxone should be given out like that, as a low-threshold service,” Dr McGovern told the Medical Independent (MI). “The drug should not be on prescription because the abuse potential is nil.”

Dr McGovern said there was “no buzz” from taking the opioid antagonist naloxone and it only interacts with opioids.

Naloxone is currently available on prescription only and is prescribed by a doctor to a person at risk of an opioid overdose.

If administered, it is not regarded as a cure and may need to be administered again, but it helps to keep a person alive until the arrival of emergency services.

The drug is recommended by the World Health Organisation for treatment in cases of opioid overdose.

Dr McGovern believes that in order to reduce deaths from overdose, the drug should be more widely available, especially to the next-of-kin of drug-users and in the home, where overdoses commonly occur.

“Naloxone is available in the clinics but it also needs to be available to the family and friends of those who are taking opioids. It should be widely available in overdose settings. These include in the home and at night, when overdoses can occur,” Dr McGovern said.

Methadone (alone or with another drug) was involved in a quarter of poisoning deaths (86) in 2015.

Naloxone has also been successfully rolled-out in Scotland, Canada, Wales and the US.

The HSE recommends that anyone prescribed naloxone should ask their doctor for more than one dose and give it to a friend or family member who will be around when they are ‘using’.

  • Comments

  • Paul | 10 Aug 2018 09:08

    OPIATES Dr O Neil developed the OLANI specifically to help addicts after detoxification from opiates. Overcoming withdrawals, however, achieved, is always a difficult process, but staying clean has proved infinitely harder. The majority of people leaving traditional rehabilitation clinics in the United States remain drug-free for less than a month. Other therapies offer better results, but not much. Addiction experts agree on one thing. That a period of 9 to 12 months drug-free is the minimum time required to rebuild physically and mentally and to have a real chance of lasting sobriety. This includes clinics that provide other shorter-acting naltrexone delivery vehicles, who recommend multiple doses and the very real risk of noncompliance. The OLANI offers genuine long-lasting protection from making a mistake. It gives recovering addicts a second chance and a third chance………….A real opportunity to get it right. The OLANI also offers peace of mind, especially to those who have a close relationship with a recovering addict, by providing protection from overdose death for up to a year.

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