Reschedule naloxone to save lives

Naloxone quickly and safely reverses the effects of opioid overdose. It’s a medicine that is easily administered and has little or no potential for abuse. But right now, Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine in Australia. If you want naloxone because someone you care about is at risk of overdosing, you should be able to go into a pharmacy and get it. Right now, you can’t.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) oversees the scheduling of medicines. Scheduling affects how and where those medicines can be sold. Naloxone is currently a Schedule 4 medicine which means it is only available to people with a prescription.

The TGA has received an application to change the scheduling of Naloxone to Schedule 3. This would make naloxone available from pharmacies without a prescription. The application will be considered at the July 2015 meeting of the TGA’s Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling (ACMS). Details of this process are on the TGA website here

The rescheduling of naloxone has widespread support among policy, research and drug user organisations. Many of these organisations have made submissions as part of the public consultation on the proposed amendments. For example -

  • The Penington Institute’s submission to the ACMS recommends rescheduling because it ‘would improve community members’ access to this drug and therefore save lives’. You can read their full submission here
  • UnitingCare’s ReGen service recommended that rescheduling naloxone would ‘save lives, support more effective treatment services and prevent the widereaching trauma associated with opioid overdoses in Australia.’ You can read their full submission here
  • The Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use advised that ‘Any strategy which lowers the threshold for disadvantaged and marginalised at risk individuals to access naloxone will be beneficial. Italy has had naloxone available over-the-counter since 1985, with no reported adverse effects. We believe that this shift would be of significant benefit here in Australia. You can read their full submission here

The Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling operates behind closed doors. To get the result we want, it’s really important they realise there are a lot of us who support this change, and that we’re all watching. Sign the petition to put them on notice that you care about saving lives.

For more information about naloxone and how it save lives, check out these videos

To the members of the TGA's Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling -

Every day an Australian dies from an opioid overdose. People like these are our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters, our friends - they are people we love. Better access to naloxone can help save these lives.

It is urgent and essential that naloxone be easily available to people who need it. We call on the Therapeutic Goods Administration to reschedule naloxone to make it available in pharmacies without a prescription.

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  • Sign the petition: Narcan saves lives
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