Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Health

National Drugs Strategy Implementation

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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160. To ask the Minister for Health the basis for the decision to make naloxone more widely available; the categories of drug users to whom this will be made available; the anticipated benefits of this approach; and the evidence on which this decision is based. [46700/14]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Opioid overdose is treatable with naloxone, an opioid antagonist which rapidly reverses the effects of opioids. In the majority of cases, overdoses are witnessed by a family member, peer or someone whose work brings them into contact with people who use opioids. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), increased access to naloxone for people likely to witness an overdose could significantly reduce the high numbers of opioid overdose deaths.

In line with WHO recommendations and the National Drugs Strategy, the HSE has developed a National Overdose Prevention Strategy which recommends that naloxone should be made routinely available in Ireland for opioid drug users. The HSE is currently finalising a demonstration project which aims to assess and evaluate the suitability and impact of using naloxone in an Irish context. The project will involve training non-medical staff, such as care workers, family and peers, in the administration of a naloxone injection supplied in a pre-filled syringe. The project will use a similar methodology to a demonstration project carried out in Wales. This will enable the HSE to carry out a comparative analysis of data from both jurisdictions.

Key stakeholders including opioid drug users, carers, family and associated professions are being consulted in relation to the training required to deliver the programme. Locations will be selected according to need and will involve approximately 600 opioid drug users initially, attending voluntary and statutory addiction services and treatment services in prisons.


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