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Scotland to roll out national naloxone service as pharmacy saves two lives

A national naloxone service will launch in Scottish community pharmacies next month, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has announced. 

Community pharmacies across the country will keep a supply of the anti-opiate overdose drug at hand for emergency use from October 30, CPS said this week (September 12).

The drug can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in an emergency.

According to the negotiator, naloxone stocks in community pharmacies will “support a reduction in drug deaths” in Scotland.

CPS described the programme as “a significant increase in access” to the drug and a signal that community pharmacy is “at the heart of the community”.

 

“Huge step forward”

 

 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland said yesterday (September 13) that the new national naloxone emergency supply service is a “huge step forward”.

It comes after RPS Scotland has “consistently called for naloxone to be available from every community pharmacy for supply to people who use drugs, family [and] healthcare professionals, and for it to be available in all clinical settings for use in emergencies”, it added.

But the membership body warned that it is “critical” that pharmacy teams have the “time and space” to undertake training to fully support them to deliver the service.

 

Pharmacy staff “save two lives”

 

It comes after staff at Wicker Pharmacy last month prevented two overdose deaths just a week after receiving naloxone training.

Staff at the Sheffield pharmacy were trained to administer naloxone by new local drug and alcohol service Likewise in partnership with national charity Humankind, the charity said last month (August 31).

Within a week of completing the training, a member of the public alerted trainee pharmacy technician Joseph Ridge that “someone had collapsed nearby”, it said.

During the same week, another Wicker pharmacy staff member encountered a suspected opioid overdose on the pharmacy’s premises, it added. 

Both clinicians administered naloxone and “saved the person’s life”, Humankind said.

 

“Really proud”

 

Mr Ridge had to administer two doses of naloxone to the collapsed member of the public before they came around and emergency services arrived to tend to them, he said.

He described the naloxone training as “really useful”, adding that the ambulance service on the phone “was also very supportive” and recommended the use of naloxone with “no hesitation”.

Ellie Bennett, managing director at Wicker Pharmacy, said that she didn’t expect the training to be “put into practice so quickly” and was “really proud” of the way her staff had responded.

 

“Nothing short of heroes”

 

Humankind national harm reduction lead Jon Findlay, who led the Wicker Pharmacy naloxone training, said that “knowing people have directly saved someone’s life after engaging with your training offer is one of the most rewarding feelings I can imagine”.

He added that Mr Ridge and his colleagues “are nothing short of heroes” and highlighted that “it cannot be said enough [that] naloxone saves lives”.

After the incidents, director of public health at Sheffield City Council Greg Fell said that the council is now reviewing an expansion of the “game-changer” service.

“Together, we hope to save many more lives,” he added.

This represented the lowest number of deaths from drug misuse since 2017 and the largest year-on-year reduction since reporting began in 1996, according to National Records of Scotland (NRS). 

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