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Public consultation announced on access to ‘rescue’ drugs

The medicines in question are adrenaline auto-injectors for treatment of anaphylaxis/allergic shock; salbutamol for treatment of asthma attacks and COPD; glucagon for treatment of diabetic hypoglycaemia; naloxone for treatment of opioid overdose; and glyceryl trinitrate for treatment of unstable angina.

The Department of Health consultation process will gather views on whether the existing prescription-only arrangements for these medicines should be improved or relaxed.

The consultation process will also consider whether non-medical people should have ready access to prescription-only medicines for use in emergency situations, while ensuring that medicines continue to be controlled in an appropriate manner. The HSE is already preparing a pilot project to make naloxone available to family members, friends and support staff of registered heroin users.

The consultation will examine ways to improve public awareness of the aforementioned potentially life-threatening medical conditions, and the medicines used to treat them.

“These rescue medicines can mean the difference between life and death if they are used in the right way, at the right time,” said Minister Varadkar. “However, they can also cause harm if used without proper training, or in the wrong circumstances. I look forward to receiving a wide range of views on this hugely important initiative, which has the potential to save lives. I hope to make a policy decision and implement it this calendar year.”

This consultation is available on the Department of Health website from today, with feedback invited from all interested parties.

The closing date for submissions is 13 March.

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