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NSW Health delivers a Take Home Naloxone Program to reduce mortality and morbidity amongst people across NSW who use opioid drugs or medicines. Through this program, a range of health workers can play a role in ensuring naloxone is available for supply to people in the NSW community who are likely to need it.

The program was developed, piloted, and evaluated by clinical and subject matter experts, in consultation with consumers. The program is being delivered by NSW public health needle and syringe programs and alcohol and other drugs services and at participating non-government organisations and private services across NSW. New agencies are regularly joining the program.

Trained and credentialed health and welfare workers at NSW public health needle and syringe programs and alcohol and other drugs services and at participating non-government organisations and private services can supply take home naloxone at no cost to consumers, carers, or family members, and provide a brief intervention about how to use the medicine.

Community members can visit Your Room for more information about naloxone and visit NUAA for ways to stay safe when using opioid drugs.

Find naloxone near you

What is naloxone and why is it important?

Naloxone is a Schedule 3 short-acting opioid antagonist medicine registered in Australia for the reversal of opioid overdose. Two formulations of naloxone are provided in the NSW Program – a pre-filled syringe for injection and an intranasal spray.

Opioid overdose is a major cause of harm and death in Australia. In 2020, 1,814 people died from drug-induced deaths, with opioids present in 1091 of those deaths (60%)[1]. In NSW, opioids were the drug class with the highest rate of drug-induced deaths, with more than 300 opioid drug deaths among NSW residents in 2020[2] .

The National Drug Strategy 2017-2026[3] and the World Health Organisation[4] have identified increasing access to naloxone as an evidence-based strategy for preventing and responding to opioid overdoses.

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COVID-19, rescue breathing and chest compressions

The take home naloxone program includes instructions for clients to perform rescue breathing and chest compressions. Before doing so, refer to the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce guidance on basic life support for adults in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information for public, private and NGO services

Information for community pharmacies

Australian Government take home naloxone program

The Australian Government take home naloxone program subsidises the cost of naloxone medicines supplied in participating community pharmacies across Australia. This program follows on from a successful pilot in NSW, South Australia and Western Australia.

The program subsidises the full cost of naloxone, including dispensing fee, to participating community pharmacies that supply the medicine to people at risk of witnessing or experiencing an opioid overdose. This includes people on prescribed opioid medicines. A PBS prescription is not required.

Participating public health and non-government health and welfare services in NSW can also supply PBS-subsidised naloxone where NSW Health policy and training requirements are complied with.

NSW Users and AIDS Association (NUAA) has been piloting a postal supply model since late 2021, delivering an online brief intervention and then supplying naloxone to the client by post. This pilot, which is supported by NSW Health, aims to increase access to take home naloxone for vulnerable populations.

How community pharmacists can get involved

  1. Find out how the National Take Home Naloxone Program works.
  2. Register for the program .
  3. Order naloxone through your usual ordering channel and promote its availability among staff and patients.
  4. Supply naloxone to eligible patients with advice on how to use naloxone.
    Refer to the consumer information sheet provided with Nyxoid® or Prenoxad®.
  5. Collect simple de-identified patient data.
  6. Claim reimbursement through the PPA portal and enter patient data.
  7. Re-order naloxone to ensure adequate replacement stock.

Naloxone continues to be available on the PBS with a prescription or as a Schedule 3 medicine.

Community pharmacists should contact the take home naloxone program administrator for information on how to register, report evaluation data and be reimbursed.

Phone: 1800 951 285 (9am to 8pm AEST Monday to Friday)
Email: support@ppaonline.com.au
Online: Pharmacy Programs Administrator

Information for general practitioners

The RACGP webinar A guide to naloxone for general practitioners supports General Practitioners to discuss opioid overdose risks with patients who may use opioids; ensure relevant patients can access naloxone; and instruct patients on when and how naloxone should be administered.

Current as at: Friday 21 July 2023