Community pharmacies in Scotland will be able to participate in a national naloxone emergency supply service from the end of next month.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland described the move as a ‘huge step forwards’ in making naloxone, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, available in all clinical settings for use in emergencies.

The programme is due to be extended in a later phase to make Take Home Naloxone (THN) available from community pharmacies to people who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose.

Participating community pharmacies have already been funded to purchase two naloxone kits to be held for emergency use and to subsidise the training of their staff.

And future naloxone kits purchased to replace any used will be reimbursed by National Services Scotland (NSS).

The new national service will begin from 30 October, when community pharmacy IT systems will also be ready to facilitate the new service.

RPS Scotland director Laura Wilson said that the new service was ‘a really important step to support the role of community pharmacy teams in reducing harm and preventing drugs deaths’.

‘RPS has been calling on the Scottish Government to ensure naloxone is made available from every community pharmacy, and the announcement of this new national service for emergency stockholding is extremely welcome,’ she said.

She added that it was ‘critical that pharmacy teams have time and space to undertake training to fully support them to deliver the service’.

And she noted that RPS Scotland would ‘stand ready to support the service in any way we can and look forward to continuing to work with the Scottish Government, including with the development of any additional policies which could be introduced to reduce harm and prevent drug deaths’.

Recent figures from the National Records of Scotland show that the number of drug related deaths in Scotland in 2022 was at its lowest level in five years but still significantly higher than the most recent UK average.

A 2021 policy statement from the RPS on pharmacy’s role in reducing harm and preventing drug deaths recommends that Naloxone be made available from every community pharmacy for supply to people who use drugs, family, healthcare professionals, and carers, and that training be given to pharmacy teams in how to use it.