The Scottish Government has widened the availability of naloxone as part of a package of support for people affected by drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other measures include £1.9m to support people on OST while in prison to switch to a prolonged release injection of buprenorphine (Buvidal), and an ‘enhanced offer of residential rehab’ for people leaving prison during the outbreak in order to reduce pressure on local services.
Under current UK regulations, only drug treatment services are allowed to supply take-home naloxone kits. However, Scotland’s lord advocate has confirmed that it would ‘not be in the public interest’ to prosecute anyone working for a service registered with the Scottish Government – for example, a homelessness organisation – who supplies naloxone for use in an emergency during the crisis. Non drug treatment services will need to register with the Scottish Government to become a naloxone provider.
‘While this public health crisis is ongoing, we must not lose sight of the fact there continues to be a significant number of highly vulnerable individuals who are at great risk of harm as a result of alcohol and drug use, who continue to need a wide range of help and support,’ said public health minister Joe FitzPatrick.
‘Buvidal is an alternative to methadone or buprenorphine tablets which is administered by a seven or 28-day injectable dose, rather than daily administration. By making this available to people in prisons, we will support continuity of care, while reducing the need for daily contact and reducing pressure on our frontline prison officers and NHS staff.
‘I welcome the lord advocate’s statement of prosecution policy in respect of the distribution of naloxone during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19,’ he added. ‘This will help to ensure that we can continue to support those affected by drug use and keep them safe.’