Thanks for the naloxone, but why do we have to wait?
In January I wrote about the release of the Victorian Government’s new four year drug strategy, suggesting that on the surface the strategy contained both promising initiatives along with some developments that raised some concerns. At the time I welcomed the government’s announcement that they would implement a wider distribution of naloxone to address opiate overdose.
The issue however is that the government wishes to assess and review evidence from trials in Australia and other countries before implementing any such initiative.
While I am not against gathering evidence to support and/or improve any intervention, surely the Victorian Government can achieve this through the implementation of an action research model thereby making naloxone available to Victorians that much sooner. On average, one Australian (many of them Victorians) die of an accidental opiate overdose every day (ANEX 2012). Waiting months (potentially years) for the government to assess the impact of the wider distribution of naloxone to the people who most need it, seems a little absurd when the potential is there to start saving lives now and gathering the evidence as the program is delivered. Programs in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales are doing just that.
The case for the wider distribution of Naloxone in Australia was succinctly summarised by Paul Dietze and Simon Lenton in 2010. In all instances evidence has been gathered by actually implementing a program.
What can we do?
Quite simply we can call on the Victorian Government to directly implement a naloxone distribution program making naloxone more freely available to people who may be considered at risk of opiate overdose and to their families and peers. Tell the Government that we want an evaluated program by all means, but that we want a program now, not some undefined time in the future.
Send the Government an e card asking the Victorian Government for Naloxone now:
1) Down load an e-card by clicking on one the images contained in this article.
2) Save the card to your computer.
3) Send the card in an email to:
Hon. Mary Woolridge, Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Community Services
4) When you send the card, tell the Minister why the timely wider distribution of Naloxone is so critical to the lives and families of Victorians.
ANEX (2012) Australian Drug Policy: Lifesavers – access to naloxone to reduce opioid overdose-related deaths and morbidity. http://www.anex.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Australian-Drug-Policy-Lifesavers-access-to-naloxone-to-reduce-opioid-overdose-related-deaths-and-morbidity.pdf accessed 23rd March 2013
Dietze, P. & Lenton S. (2010) The case for wider distribution of naloxone in Australia. http://www.atoda.org.au/wp-content/uploads/The_heroin_reversal_drug_naloxone_FIN2.pdf Downloaded from the ATODA website 23rd March 2013