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pills4June 27 2016

Guidance on naloxone supply has been updated with advice about what to consider when there is a need for use in people under 18 years.

The guidelines were introduced in October 2015 as part of a move to widen the availability of naloxone as an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opiates or opioids such as methadone and morphine.

They are intended for use by drug treatment services authorised to supply naloxone, including:

  • drug services commissioned from primary care providers
  • drug services commissioned from secondary care providers (including a range of specialised community and inpatient drug services)
  • commissioned services providing needle and syringe programmes (including those provided from pharmacies)
  • pharmacies providing drug treatment services.

The update says that “any drug treatment service considering providing a child or young person under 18 with training on overdose management or on the use of naloxone, or considering direct supply of naloxone, should always act in line with established clinical principles for the treatment of children and young people.

“This is the case whether the goal of such consideration is to reduce risks to a young person who is using drugs or to reduce risk for others (such as an opioid-using parent).”

It points out that there are no legal restrictions under the 2015 legislation, and that “such a decision would need very careful consideration and oversight and would need to be made on a case by case basis.

“An appropriately competent professional acting within a suitable clinical governance framework would have to consider the needs of each child or young person, taking account of potential benefits to the child of the intervention and any risks.”

Factors they would need to take into account include the child or young person’s ability to understand the issues involved and to provide suitable consent. “In the case of a child who exercises a carer role for a drug-using parent, consideration of the interests of the child can be quite complex.” There is also a need to consider issues such as those relating to child safeguarding.

Links:

Department of Health Guidance

Updated guidance

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