The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has welcomed the Western Australian Government’s decision to equip Police Officers with naloxone.
It comes following Police Minister Paul Papalia and Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson announcing that it will be added to the WA Police Force tool kit. The opioid antagonist drug can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose from drugs such as oxycodone, fentanyl, or heroin. Available via an intranasal spray, naloxone is completely free under the Take Home Naloxone program in a range of locations including participating pharmacies, alcohol and drug treatment centres, custodial release programs, and needle and syringe programs.
RACGP WA Chair Dr Ramya Raman welcomed the announcement.
“This move by the Western Australian Government will save lives,” she said.
“It’s great news that more than 500 Police Officers have been trained in how to administer naloxone, and it’s also positive to learn that the New South Wales and South Australian authorities have approached the WA Police Force for advice as they consider running their own programs.
“Much more must be done to get this drug into the hands of people likely to experience an opioid overdose, which includes law enforcement. A year-long Australia-first trial, which ran from 1 July 2021 to 30 June last year, saw 365 WA Police Officers become the first police anywhere in the southern hemisphere to carry the drug. Delivered via nasal spray, naloxone was successfully used to treat 20 people in the Perth and Bunbury regions. That is 20 people who otherwise may have succumbed to an overdose who now have another chance.”
RACGP Alcohol and Other Drug spokesperson Dr Hester Wilson backed Dr Raman’s comments.
“Overdose from opioids, such as heroin, fentanyl or oxycodone, is a health problem and there are solutions, including naloxone,” she said.
“This miraculous drug can save lives on the brink of overdose, so putting naloxone into the hands of law enforcement is just what the doctor ordered. During the national Take Home Naloxone pilot, which ran from December 2019 to 30 June 2021, naloxone was used at least 1,649 times to reverse an opioid overdose. The challenge now is fighting stigma, educating people who use opioids as well as their family members, friends and loved ones, and getting it into the hands of more people in the community, including our police forces.
“There is nothing holding us back aside from the political will to make it happen. Naloxone is completely free from a range of locations including participating pharmacies. You don’t even need to learn how to inject the drug anymore, because it can be administered via an intranasal spray.
“We have no time to lose, a report early this year found that there were 1,788 drug-induced deaths Australia-wide in 2021, which is the equivalent of five drug-induced deaths every day. Every person’s life matters, it’s as simple as that.”
RACGP spokespeople are available for interview.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.
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