The Pharmacists’ Role in Provision of Take-Home Naloxone Kits
In late November 2016, the take-home naloxone kit program was announced as part of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Opioid Action Plan. The initiative increases access to naloxone, a safe and effective opioid antagonist indicated for the complete or partial reversal of opioid overdose and its consequences. There are over 75 distribution sites where members of the public can access free take-home naloxone kits, including the Safe Works Access Program (SWAP) and its satellite sites, youth and adult correctional facilities, some public health clinics, and Regional Health Authority Mental Health and Addictions Offices.
While data can be difficult to capture due to the nature of situations in which naloxone kits are used, recent evaluation of the program indicates that, to date:
- 1033 kits have been reported as distributed, and 1297 people have been trained on how to use the kits,
- 38 replacement kits have been distributed, and
- At least 14 kits were used during an overdose, saving the lives of at least 10 opioid overdose victims.
Even though pharmacies are not yet included as distribution sites under the provincial program, pharmacists have a key role to play in increasing awareness about naloxone and in increasing access to this life-saving drug. Pharmacists can either provide a kit themselves or direct patients to the provincial program for a free kit.
Pharmacists who offer kits for sale are expected to follow the NLPB Guidelines for The Sale of Naloxone in Community Pharmacies. The guideline encourages pharmacists to consider providing naloxone to:
- any individual who is known to use, or who self-identifies as using opioids for either medical purposes or for recreational use;
- friends or family members of individuals identified as opioid users; or
- any person who knows an opioid user who would like to be prepared in the event of an overdose.
Keep in mind that, while it would be ideal for the pharmacist to personally consult with the patient (i.e. the person for whom the drug is intended) prior to providing naloxone, considering the nature of the drug and its intended use, this may not always be possible. Given the safe and effective nature of naloxone, it is very unlikely that there would be a situation where it would not be appropriate to provide the drug to someone who requests it.
If a patient or contact of an opioid user requires a free kit, they should be directed to call “811” for information about the nearest distribution site.
Finally, many business owners (such as gas stations, bars, and late-night restaurants) have expressed interest in purchasing naloxone kits, as well as arranging training for their staff in what to do if they encounter a suspected opioid overdose. It is reasonable that pharmacists could provide this service, if approached.
For more information, please view the NLPB Guidelines for The Sale of Naloxone in Community Pharmacies on the Standards, Guidelines, and Policies page or contact the NLPB office for guidance.
Professional Practice Webinars
The August Professional Practice webinar, “Buprenorphine-Naloxone for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence” is now available on the Professional Practice Webinars page of the NLPB website. The next webinar, Frequently-Asked Questions – Professional Development Standards and Online Portal, will take place on Tuesday, October 10, 2017 from 9:00 – 10:00 am and will be posted to the website shortly thereafter. Look for registration information in your email in the coming weeks.
EARLY NOTICE – December Holiday Hours
In anticipation of upcoming registration-related deadlines, we wanted to give advance notice of the Board office’s Holiday Hours. This year, in recognition of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Board office will be closed from Monday, December 25th through to Monday, January 1st, reopening on Tuesday, January 2, 2018.
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