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Drug abuse

Nearly 200 naloxone kits provided through ‘click-and-deliver’ service during pandemic

Exclusive: Since May 2020, a charity in Scotland has issued 187 naloxone kits — an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opioids.

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Source: Barry Lewis / Alamy

Justina Murray, chief executive of Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, said that “a number of the kits we issued have already been used in overdose situations”

A “click-and-deliver” naloxone service has provided 187 take-home naloxone kits to people’s homes since the service began in May 2020, the charity offering the service has said.

The service, offered by Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (SFAD) and the Scottish Drugs Forum, enables anyone aged 16 years and over and living in Scotland to order a naloxone kit online for home delivery, reducing the need to attend a pharmacy, or other healthcare location or drugs service. The kits are delivered in plain packaging.

SFAD told The Pharmaceutical Journal that of the 187 kits delivered, 25 were ordered by people at risk of overdose, 70 were ordered by family members and friends, and 92 by service workers.

Naloxone is used as an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opioids, such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl.

On 3 May 2020, the Scottish government announced measures to support people affected by drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic, including “widening the availability of overdose reversal drug naloxone while measures to tackle coronavirus remain in place”.

Justina Murray, chief executive of SFAD, said that “the new flexibility offered by the Lord Advocate in response to COVID-19 has enabled Scottish Families to distribute life-saving naloxone kits for the first time”.

”This means we can supply kits direct to families and others who would struggle to access these through other routes,” she said.

Murray added that “a number of the kits we issued have already been used in overdose situations, reducing the risk of drug-related harm and death”.

The rate of drug-related deaths in Scotland is higher than any EU country, and around 3.5 times higher than in the UK as a whole. In 2019, there were 1,264 drug-related deaths recorded in Scotland, an increase of 6% on the previous year. Opioids were found to be implicated in, or to have potentially contributed to, 86% of the deaths.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2021.20208730

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