About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland presents information on the number of take-home naloxone kits issued by the National Naloxone Programme in Scotland. Figures are presented separately for kits issued from community outlets, kits issued in prisons at the point of prisoner release, kits dispensed via community prescription, and kits issued by Scottish Ambulance Service.

Accidental overdose is a common cause of death among users of heroin, morphine and similar drugs, which are referred to as opioids. Naloxone is a drug which reverses the effects of a potentially fatal overdose with these drugs.

Main points

During 2021/22 Quarter 1 (1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021):

  • 5,363 Take-Home Naloxone (THN) kits were issued.
  • 4,049 THN kits were issued by services based in the community.
  • 357 THN kits were issued from non-drug treatment services – this was 9% of kits issued by services based in the community.
  • Due to operational pressures, Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) were only able to provide data for April and May 2021. For this period, 158 kits were distributed by SAS.
  • 391 kits were issued by prisons in Scotland.
  • 752 kits were dispensed by community pharmacies.

At the end of 2021/22 Quarter 1, the reach of the National Naloxone Programme (NNP) was estimated to be 59.17% – an increase of around 1.5 percentage points compared to 2020/21 Quarter 4 (57.53%).

Background

The overall aim of Scotland’s National Naloxone Programme is to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. Administration of naloxone provides time for emergency services to arrive and for further treatment to be given. Following suitable training, take-home naloxone kits are issued to people at risk of opioid overdose, their friends and family and service workers in order to help prevent overdose deaths. In the five years from April 2011 to March 2016, the National Naloxone Programme co-ordinated distribution of take-home naloxone kits from community outlets (usually specialist drug treatment services) and prisons. During this period, NHS Boards were responsible for local delivery of the programme and the cost of naloxone kits was reimbursed by the Scottish Government.

While the Scottish Government continues to fund some aspects of the National Naloxone Programme, from 2016/17 NHS Boards assumed direct responsibility for funding take-home naloxone supplies. Following this change and revisions to the regulatory framework, some NHS Boards have also started to dispense take-home naloxone via community prescription.

‘Reach’ is defined as the proportion of a population ‘at risk’ of a specific harm (i.e. opioid overdose) who have been the subject of a treatment or intervention (i.e. been supplied with THN). In the context of THN, this is done by counting ‘first’ supplies to people at risk of opioid overdose. For a full description of the methodology used, see the National Naloxone Programme Scotland Annual Report.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be February 2022.

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If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.drugsteam@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 01 November 2021
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