cohealth has welcomed the Victorian Government’s roll-out of the federal Take-Home Naloxone (THN) program, which will make overdose-reversal medicine free and available without a prescription.
Whereas previously naloxone could only be collected with a prescription from a pharmacy, from this week, naloxone can be accessed free-of-charge from selected drug and alcohol services in Victoria without a prescription. The changes also allow outreach workers from approved organisations to dispense naloxone, making sure it will get into the hands of some of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach people.
cohealth says that expanding access to naloxone for people who are at risk of, or who are likely to witness, an opioid overdose is a key step in preventing overdose deaths.
“This is life-saving medicine, it is easy-to-administer and has no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system. There is no downside to making this medicine more available,” said Dr Dean Membrey, cohealth addiction medicine specialist.
Last year, 230 Victorians lost their lives to heroin overdose and 183 died of prescription opioid overdose (Source: Coroner’s Court of Victoria, November 2022)
“We know that when naloxone is easier to get, that people will use it. Among the clients that we support there is a great sense of community. People want to look after each other, and carrying naloxone is part of that,” said Dr Membrey.
However, cohealth warns that naloxone is not a silver bullet, and that the Victorian Government needs to introduce a system-wide response to drug use in the community.
“To save lives we need a broad range of responses including prevention, greater access to naloxone, a second supervised injecting service and more investment in pharmacotherapy treatment for people who want to stop using drugs,” said Dr Membrey.
Media enquiries: Lanie.Harris@cohealth.org.au or 0418 552 377
About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across metropolitan Melbourne and the East Coast of Tasmania.