This International Overdose Awareness Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) recognises the important role pharmacists play in supporting patients taking prescription opioids, noting that in its first year alone, the Take Home Naloxone (THN) program has saved 3000 lives.
The national THN program provides naloxone to anyone who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction for free and without a prescription.
Since the THN program began on 1 July 2022, an estimated 3,0001 doses have been used by Australians experiencing or witnessing an opioid overdose or adverse reaction equating to 8 uses per day.
PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS says that pharmacists have been key to the success of the program because of their accessibility and expertise.
“The Take Home Naloxone program has saved Australian lives,” Dr Sim said.
“Evidence from the first year of the THN program shows that pharmacists are well-placed to provide naloxone, whether alongside a prescribed opioid or as a stand-alone supply.
“As our most accessible healthcare professionals, pharmacists have distributed over 90% of naloxone for the THN Program. This is evidence that pharmacist-provided naloxone as one of the harm minimisation initiatives, alongside counselling, is feasible and acceptable by Australians.
“To ensure ongoing sustainability and impact, pharmacists must be empowered and supported to provide this life-saving service.
“We are urging anyone taking opioids for pain management, or caring for someone who does, to have a conversation with your local pharmacist about having naloxone on-hand. We can also provide advice about identifying an opioid overdose and how to respond during an emergency.
“Over recent years we have seen more cases of illicit party drugs being spiked with acetyl-fentanyl which can cause opioid overdoses even in small amounts.
“Your pharmacist is there to provide judgement-free, expert advice on when and how to use this life-saving drug.
“It could save your life, or the life of a friend.”
Take Home Naloxone is available to Australians through their local pharmacist. PSA recommends calling ahead to ensure your local pharmacy participates in the THN program and has available stock.
- Up to 8 lives saved each day from use of Take-Home Naloxone
- Over 110,000 Australians are currently struggling with opioid dependence
- 45.7% of unintentional drug-induced deaths in 2021 involved opioids
1 Data from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, provided by the Department of Health and Aged Care.
2 Pennington Institute Australia Annual Overdose Report 2023.
Media contact: Georgia Clarke M: 0480 099 798 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is the only national peak body that represents all of Australia’s 36,000 pharmacists across all practice settings. We want every Australian to have access to the best healthcare, and this must include optimising access to pharmacists’ knowledge and medicines expertise at the forefront of our healthcare system.