From 1 February 2016 naloxone for treatment of opioid overdose is in Schedule 3 of the Poisons List (pharmacist only medicines). The down-scheduling to Schedule 3 applies to all brands, strengths, presentations and pack sizes of naloxone products. This means a doctor’s prescription is no longer necessary to obtain naloxone, but it may be obtained upon consultation with a pharmacist.
Naloxone, which is given by injection, reverses the effects of opioid drugs such as morphine, oxycodone and heroin.
As currently marketed packs of naloxone are labelled "PRESCRIPTION ONLY MEDICINE" (Schedule 4) and are not labelled with any consumer directions, pharmacists supplying naloxone must at present over-label it with a full dispensing label-patient name, directions, date, etc. as per Appendix A of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008.
As currently marketed packs of naloxone (ampoules and pre-loaded syringes) do not include a hypodermic needle, pharmacists supplying it should supply 23 gauge needle/s at the same time, as well as syringe/s if supplying the ampoules.
Pharmacists should check for professional practice guidelines on appropriately managing supply of naloxone.
As with any S3 medicine, naloxone may be supplied for immediate or later use, and may be supplied to the intended patient or a relative or carer.
Whether or not naloxone is used, an ambulance should be called immediately (phone 000) in all cases of suspected opioid overdose (if the patient is not already in hospital).
See the Guide to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Legislation for the Supply of Schedule 3 Substances for further information on supplying Schedule 3 medicines.