A pilot scheme that will provide the overdose reversal medicine, naloxone, to those who need it on the streets could be extended across the UK.
The 12-week scheme will involve a team of people, who have experience of drug issues, taking naloxone out on to the streets to give to opiate users, while training them in how to use the medicine.
The ‘peer-to-peer naloxone’ project, which has been launched by the drug and alcohol charity Addaction, is a model for naloxone distribution that means people do not have to rely on access to treatment services to recieve the medicine.
The scheme, launched in Redcar and Cleveland in the north east of England on 4 November 2019 and supported by Cleveland Police. Addaction plans to roll out the scheme in all of its services across the UK.
“Naloxone is easy to use, relatively inexpensive and can be the difference between life and death,” said Rachel Britton, director of pharmacy at Addaction.
“We know that people outside of structured drug treatment are most likely to die of a drug-related cause, so peer-to-peer naloxone is a ‘no brainer’. This is an exciting first step to the scheme being rolled [out] across all of Addaction’s services.”
Figures from the Office for National Statistics, published in August 2019, show that drug-related deaths in England and Wales are at record levels. The north east of England has the highest rate of drug-related deaths in England and Wales with a recorded 96.3 deaths per million people.
In July 2019, the NHS funded a project to explore whether pharmacists in Scotland could provide naloxone for patients taking prescription opioids.