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Patients to benefit from newly listed nasal spray for opioid reversal

19 December 2019

Opioid harm and overdoses associated with the use and misuse of pharmaceutical and illicit opioids are fast becoming major health concerns.

The rate of opioid induced deaths has almost doubled in 10 years, from 3.8 to 6.6 deaths per 100,000 Australians between 2007 and 2016.

Every day in Australia, nearly 150 hospitalisations and 14 emergency department admissions involve opioid harm, and three people die from drug-induced deaths involving opioids.

The addition of a new nasal spray form of naloxone to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will help to mitigate some of these risks according to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).

Naloxone (hydrochloride dehydrate) has a well-established evidence base demonstrating its effectiveness in opioid overdose reversal.

Until now, the potential life-saving overdose antidote was required to be administered via injection in order to counteract a potential overdose.

The RANZCP Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry (FADDP) said the new nasal spray form of Naloxone has been approved for emergency treatment for known or suspected opioid overdose in both healthcare settings as well as home and other non-medical settings.

‘Trials have shown that concentrated intranasal formulations can quickly and effectively reverse opioid overdoses,’ said Dr Shalini Arunogiri, Chair of the RANZCP FADDP.

‘Not only does the nasal spray provide a fast and effective administration of the overdose antidote, but thanks to the PBS listing and its new affordability its uptake will now be maximised where needed.

‘The experiences of psychiatrists working with at-risk individuals and their families suggest cost is a significant barrier to accessing treatments.

‘People with comorbid opioid dependence and mental health problems face even higher barriers to accessing treatments with higher out-of-pocket costs, compared to the general population.’

The RANZCP Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry had strongly advocated for the intranasal spray to be made available on the PBS for opioid overdose reversal, ensuring its affordability to, and availability within, the wider Australian community.

With over 110,000 Australians currently struggling with opioid dependence, the inclusion of this live-saving antidote comes at the right time.

Interview opportunity:

  • Dr Shalini Arunogiri – Chair, RANZCP Faculty of Addiction Psychiatry

For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 (0)3 9640 0646 or +61 437 315 911, or email