Publications & Reports

Community pharmacy naloxone supply, before and after rescheduling as an over-the-counter drug: sales and prescriptions data, 2014-2018.

Tse WC, Sanfilippo P, Lam T, Dietze P, Nielsen S
Monash Addiction Research Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


OBJECTIVES: To characterise the community pharmacy supply of naloxone by supply type - individual prescription, prescriber bag, and non-dispensed (supplied over the counter or expired) - during 2014-2018; to examine whether the 2016 rescheduling of naloxone as an over-the-counter drug influenced non-dispensed naloxone supply volume. DESIGN, SETTING: Analysis of monthly naloxone prescriptions (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and sales data (IQVIA), 2014-2018, for Australia and by state and territory; time series analysis of non-dispensed naloxone supply to assess effect of rescheduling on naloxone supply. MAJOR OUTCOMES: Total naloxone supply to community pharmacies; prescribed and non-dispensed naloxone supply. RESULTS: During 2014-2018, 372 351 400 mug units of naloxone were sold to community pharmacies: non-dispensed naloxone accounted for 205 866.5 units (55.3%), prescriber bags for 155 841 units (41.8%), and individual prescriptions for 10 643.5 units (2.9%). Population-adjusted national naloxone sales to community pharmacies increased between 2014 and 2018 (per year: incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.09-2.22). This increase was primarily attributable to increased volumes of prescriber bag naloxone (IRR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.50-1.78) and, to a lesser extent, increased individual prescription supply (IRR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.85-2.26). Non-dispensed naloxone supply volume was unchanged at the national level (IRR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.85-1.01); changes in non-dispensed supply immediately following rescheduling and subsequently were not statistically significant in time series analyses for most jurisdictions. CONCLUSIONS: Total naloxone supply to community pharmacies in Australia increased between 2014 and 2018, but rescheduling that enabled over-the-counter access did not significantly influence the volume of non-dispensed naloxone.

Link to publisher’s web site

Wai Chung Tse is supported by an Eastern Health Clinical School Winter Scholarship. Suzanne Nielsen (1163961) and Paul Dietze (1136908) hold National Health and Medical Research Council Research Fellowships.


  • Journal: The Medical Journal of Australia
  • Published: 03/03/2020
  • Volume: 212
  • Issue: 7
  • Pagination: 314-320