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A mural in Limerick City promoting use of Naloxone. Daragh Brophy/The Journal

Naloxone will be more widely available after helping save lives in recent overdose cases

The availability of the medication was vital in saving lives during recent overdose clusters in Dublin and Cork.

NALOXONE SERVICES WILL be extended this year after a successful rollout in 2023, the Drugs Minister has confirmed.

Naloxone is a prescription-only medication that is used as an antidote to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs like heroin, morphine, methadone and synthetic opioids like nitazene if someone overdoses.

The availability of naloxone was vital in saving lives during recent overdose clusters in Dublin and Cork.

Some 6,488 units of naloxone were supplied by the HSE to services in 2023 and almost 2,000 people who work in addiction and related services were last year trained in how to properly administer it.

Naloxone can be administered in two ways – via an injection or nasal spray.

Healthcare workers, frontline gardaí, people who work in homelessness services and family members of people with addiction issues are among those who have been trained to date.

Under a recent pilot scheme at St James’s Hospital in Dublin patients who were at risk of overdosing were given naloxone kits to bring home.

As part of the continued implementation of harm reduction measures under the National Drugs Strategy, Minister Hildegarde Naughton said she is committed to supporting further development of naloxone services in 2024.

“We saw the lifesaving effects of naloxone during the recent overdose cases in Dublin and Cork,” Naughton said.

In many cases it was administered before emergency services arrived on the scene, and this reinforces the need to make it more readily available.

“My department is working closely with the HSE National Naloxone Oversight Quality Assurance Group to increase awareness and accessibility of naloxone. It’s important that it is made more accessible to support workers, peers and family members.”

mdp-studio_hse_naloxone-products_26-oct-2023 Michael Donnelly / HSE Michael Donnelly / HSE / HSE

Prison Service and other training

The Irish Prison Service in August announced that it would provide intranasal naloxone to prisoners on release who have a history of opioid use in a bid to prevent fatalities in the event of an overdose.

Educational videos were created for broadcast on the in-cell Prison TV channel to increase prisoner awareness of how to respond effectively in overdose situations.

Naughton said that by the end of this month, the HSE National Social Inclusion Office will launch a blended accredited Opioid Overdose Awareness and Naloxone Administration Training course online.

Organisations which complete the two-module training can notify the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) of their intention to procure naloxone from a pharmacy or other supplier.

“Naloxone training is part of an integrated approach to reducing drug harm under the National Drugs Strategy, and I am committed to supporting practical initiatives that help to save and improve the lives of those affected by drug use,” the minister said.

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