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Pharmacies in Scotland supplied over 9,000 take-home naloxone kits in 2020/21

Community pharmacies in Scotland dispensed or issued more than 9,000 take-home naloxone kits in 2020/21, a report has revealed.

Of the 22,366 kits issued in 2020/21 as part of the National Naloxone Programme, 13,933 were handed to patients from community outlets including pharmacies, according to a report by Public Health Scotland (PHS), which was published yesterday (May 3).

Community pharmacies supplied 1,999 kits either upon patients’ requests or along with a patient’s prescribed medication and a further 7,045 kits were dispensed via a named community prescription, a PHS spokesperson confirmed to C+D today (May 4).


Read more: Plans for pharmacists to supply take-home naloxone garner strong support


The number of kits dispensed via a named community prescription saw a sharp increase on the previous year, when 809 such kits were dispensed via this route.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of take-home naloxone kits was extended to non-drug treatment services, which allowed community pharmacies to give out the kits as non-prescribed medication, according to the report.


Variation in service provision


The report found that in 2020/21, the supply of take-home naloxone kits via community pharmacies increased in some NHS boards that “had rarely utilised prescribing as a means of naloxone provision”.

Community Pharmacy Scotland director Matt Barclay told C+D today that provision of naloxone services via the pharmacy network varies at a local level, “but we know that many health boards and pharmacies do provide this service in their areas and the evidence through PHS suggests this”.


Read more: Community pharmacy: the forgotten frontline against drug-related deaths


“Community pharmacy provision of naloxone is an obvious route given the contact community pharmacy teams can have with patients on a regular basis.

“We are keen to explore what a national service involving naloxone supply could look like through community pharmacy as the national Drugs Death Taskforce continues to look at ways of tackling drugs deaths,” Mr Barclay added.

The public seems to be in favour of allowing the supply of take-home naloxone via pharmacies without a prescription, according to the responses shared with the Department of Health and Social Care – which consulted on proposing to widen the access to the drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses last year.

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