Sweden's Medical Products Agency is taking a significant step towards combating opioid overdoses. This comes with their recent change in stance on the life-saving nasal spray, naloxone. Previously, the agency denied non-prescription sales of naloxone, stating that users needed to receive detailed information on how to use the medication. However, they have now revised this position, allowing naloxone to be sold without a prescription at pharmacies. This decision could make naloxone available over the counter in a matter of months, provided a manufacturing company applies for its non-prescription sale.
A Lifesaving Measure
Naloxone is a crucial antidote in the form of a nasal spray. It can effectively reverse an opioid overdose if administered quickly. Currently, the spray is only prescribed by doctors and nurses to individuals at risk of overdose. But with the new assessment from the Medical Products Agency, the spray is set to become accessible to anyone. Pharmacy staff will be responsible for providing customers with necessary instructions on its use. Each spray contains a single dose, and it is vital to call for emergency services after its administration as its effect may not be sufficient.
Increasing Accessibility and Addressing Opioid Overdoses
In Sweden, approximately 900 people die annually from drug or medication poisoning, with opioids being the most common cause. Accessibility to naloxone, therefore, is a matter of life and death. The cost of two doses of naloxone is currently 500 SEK when prescribed. The government has also proposed a new law allowing personnel at shelters and professionals like police officers to carry naloxone, further increasing its accessibility and potential to save lives.
Social Minister Jakob Forssmed is confident that the Medical Products Agency will process any forthcoming applications swiftly, enabling the broader distribution of naloxone. The over-the-counter availability of naloxone is a measure that has been discussed for several years as a strategy against the high Swedish drug mortality rate. This move by the Medical Products Agency is indeed a step in the right direction to combat the opioid crisis in Sweden.