Letter: Call for drug access

THE latest Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2018 reveals a massive 87 per cent increase in pharmaceutical opioid deaths from 2008 to 2014 in Australia. 

We are talking about drugs like oxycodone, codeine and fentanyl – which is about 100 times more powerful than pure morphine. Heroin overdose deaths are increasing too. 

If we carry on down this path, Australia will experience a US-style drug overdose crisis.

In 2016, 2177 lives were lost to overdose.

One answer lies in a very important drug that we are not hearing enough about. Naloxone. It needs to be put into the hands of the people who need it most.

Put simply, naloxone saves lives and temporarily reverses an opioid overdose. Naloxone also reverses a heroin overdose.

We say naloxone should be provided free of charge through mental health services, pharmacies, hospital emergency rooms and needle and syringe programs. The drug has few side effects and – in an emergency – will literally save a life. Naloxone is, in essence, an emergency medicine.

We have to turn the tide on opioid overdose deaths. We need action on this now.

I urge readers to ask your local MP what role they are playing in getting naloxone into the hands of people who need it most – and ask their local MP what actions are they really taking to help reduce accidental drug overdoses in the local area?

John Ryan,

CEO, Penington Institute