Take away opiate antidote saves lives

April 12, 2001

Take home naloxone and the prevention of deaths from opiate overdose: two pilot schemes

Distributing naloxone (the antidote for opiate overdose) to opiate addicts saves lives, according to the first ever results of two pilot schemes published in this week's BMJ

Opiate users in two centres (Berlin and Jersey) were offered training in emergency resuscitation after overdose and were given supplies of naloxone to take home. They were asked to report on any use of the drug. After 16 months, 34 instances of resuscitation using naloxone were reported. All fully recovered. At least 10% of distributed naloxone had saved lives.

The drug was generally used appropriately. In only one case was its use inappropriate, with two of doubtful benefit. No adverse consequences, other than withdrawal symptoms, were reported.

These early reports are encouraging, say the authors, and in future, family members may be trained to give emergency naloxone. A study of the wider distribution of take home naloxone is now required, they conclude.
-end-
Contact:

John Strang, National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry and the Maudsley Hospital, London, UK Email: j.strang@iop.kcl.ac.uk

BMJ

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