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Naloxone programme set to be expanded across Ireland

The Naloxone Demonstration Project was established in 2015 to test the feasibility of making naloxone, which is a semi-synthetic, competitive opioid antagonist medication, available for use by opioid users in order to prevent death from overdose.

Four locations were selected for the Demonstration Project — Dublin, Waterford/South East, Limerick and Cork.

A total of 95 prescriptions of naloxone were issued during the pilot. The majority (67 per cent) of these were issued in Dublin and the remainder (33 per cent) were issued in Limerick. Six GPs in total were involved in the medical assessment and prescribing of these prescriptions.

“About 600 people have been trained up,” Mr Hennessy told the Medical Independent (MI).

“Our plan in 2017 is to expand that, probably about three- and four-fold at least. It has been a success story in terms of implementation. Our intention would be to expand country-wide. The stories of people who have direct experience of addiction is probably the most compelling part of this. That, in itself, ‘sells’ this as a success story. The technology works. What we have to ensure is that it is available and we resource it, and that the right people, particularly family, friends, are aware and are trained and have access to the product when they need it. That is our objective.”

During the course of the demonstration project, there were five administrations of naloxone and potentially fatal overdoses were prevented for the five males involved. Four of the naloxone administrations were administered by front-line workers and one was administered peer-to-peer.

The Chief Pharmacist of Addiction Services with the HSE Mr Denis O’Driscoll, who led the project, said that the biggest learning point was that service users were comfortable in using the product.

“The majority of our reports from service users are that they are very happy that they have this extra tool in their kit in order to prevent one of their friends dying,” he told MI.

Mr O’Driscoll added that future plans include having more GPs involved in the prescription of naloxone, and the potential for the treatment, which is injected, to be delivered in a nasal formulation. A nasal formulation was recently approved by the FDA in the US.

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