Australia to subsidise heroin overdose reversal drug

Sydney, Feb 24 (IANS) The Victorian government in Australia on Friday said it will subsidise a drug that reverses heroin overdoses.

Naloxone, which usually costs $75 when bought over the counter, will be free for drug users and families who cannot afford it under a $ 1 million package announced by the government, Xinhua news agency reported.

Drug users, overdose survivors and their families will also be offered greater access to support services as part of the package.

“It’s a great step and we welcome the announcement,” John Ryan, CEO of the Penington Institute, said.

Naloxane is an anti-opioid which is administered in the event of an overdose with near-instant results, potentially saving lives.

The drug, which was made available without a prescription in Victoria in 2016, has been supported by the not-for-profit Pennington Institute for more than five years.

“Survivors are more likely to overdose again so this support is vital,” Ryan said.

Records released by Victoria’s coroner showed that around 80 per cent of drug overdoses in Victoria in 2015-16 were a result of opioids such as oxycodone, codeine and methadone.

“This investment will help make Naloxone more affordable and provide more people with the skills to identify and respond to overdose,” said Martin Foley, Minister for Mental Health.