naloxone1November 16 2015


Guidance on the recent regulatory changes to increase the availability of naloxone for emergency treatment of opioid overdose has been issued.


Regulatory changes came into effect on October 1 allowing naloxone to be supplied without prescription by drug treatment services.

These can include:

  • 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.

Supply will be under patient group directions (PGDs) or patient specific directiosn (PSDs), and will allow injectable naloxone preparations to be supplied or used.

“Under the new regulations, it is legal to provide a family member or friend of a heroin/opioid user with naloxone without the express permission of the person who is using the heroin/opioid, as long as it is being supplied by the drug treatment service in order for the family member or friend to be able to use it to save life in an emergency,” says the Department of Health guidance.

“There is, however, an ethical question for local areas concerning the appropriateness of such supply without the drug user knowing or agreeing. We would expect that this issue would be addressed within local protocols and through local clinical decision making processes.”

PSNC has commented: “Pharmacy contractors are reminded that this widening of availability to supply naloxone is not an obligation to do so. Thought may have to be given to including the supply of naloxone as part of the locally commissioned service and the costs of procuring naloxone, staff training in the safe and competent administration of naloxone and the replacement cost of naloxone, if used, are likely to need to be factored into negotiations with local commissioners.”


DoH guidance ‘Widening the availability of naloxone’

PSNC comment