Naloxone, more commonly known by its brand name of Narcan, was previously available only through a prescription but can now be picked up from the Alcohol and Drugs Service. The Homeless Shelter and other support organisations will also receive the medicine.
Leah Le Cornu, harm reduction worker, said: ‘This new and significant initiative is a major step forward for Jersey. Naloxone is a very effective way of reducing deaths by overdose. As a service, we have been pushing for this to go through for a number of years.
‘Now, not only hospitals and paramedics will have Naloxone but it can be in the household of every vulnerable person affected by opiate use. This will save people’s lives.’
The antidote, which has been used widely by healthcare and law enforcement officers in the USA for years, works by attaching itself to opioid receptors and blocks the effect of the opioid drug which the patient has taken. It can, in many cases, quickly restore normal breathing to a person suffering from an overdose.
Examples of opioids include heroin, fentanyl, codeine, and morphine.
Simba Kashiri, the Alcohol and Drugs Service lead, said: ‘We are pleased to be in a position to offer Naloxone under a patient group directive. This means that we can make every opportunistic contact with service users count under our Opiate Pathways Treatment as well as those who are not in treatment yet but use our Needle Exchange and harm reduction pathway.
‘I would like to give special thanks to our colleagues in the hospital pharmacy and staff in the Alcohol and Drug service for getting us to this point. Carrying Naloxone could save someone’s life.’
Anyone who is given the antidote will be given a short briefing on how to administer it.