The life-saving role of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioid overdose, and the need to make it more widely available, are key themes of the 2016 Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU) Colloquium.
To be hosted by Burnet Institute on International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31, the colloquium brings together researchers and practitioners to present on initiatives and issues around ‘take-home’ naloxone in Australia.
Burnet Principal for Alcohol, Other Drugs and Harm Reduction, Professor Paul Dietze regards naloxone as fundamental to the prevention of deaths from overdose.
“No-one needs to die from an opioid overdose, and we need to create circumstances where that’s possible,” Professor Dietze said.
“That includes making sure that naloxone is readily available; making sure that everybody who comes into contact with people who are using opioids has ready access to the drug.
“The people we’re interested in targeting are people who are likely to come across people who overdose – friends and family and others who work with people who inject drugs, for example.
“There are others who are at risk of opioid overdose as well, and the idea is to get it out to as many people as possible so that people can respond quickly with this life-saving drug.”
Professor Dietze said recent changes to the manufacture and distribution of naloxone in Australia had prompted a rethink about the options available for consumers.
“The problem we have is that the manufacturer of the ‘minijet’ form used widely in Australia has pulled out, and we haven’t really got a suitable alternative yet,” he said.
“That’s one of the big barriers we face at the moment.
“We’re going to be moving towards using ampules rather than pre-filled syringes, and we really need to start looking at other alternatives.
“There are new pre-filled syringes available in other countries; there are intra-nasal forms of the drug where you squirt it up the nose rather than into a muscle, and we need to be looking at these alternatives.
Professor Dietze paid credit to local community-based organisations such as Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV) and Penington Institute, and their equivalent organisations interstate for their effective work to promote the benefits of naloxone more widely.
Both HRV and Penington will be represented at the 2016 CREIDU Colloquium.
To download the colloquium program and presenter biographies, click here.
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