The miracle drug that can save three lives per day is now freely available in Australia. This drug reverses the results of an opioid overdose, an incident that causes the death of at least 1,000 Australians annually. For this reason, this miracle drug is recommended to be included in every first aid kit, even those at home. It’s free, accessible at pharmacies, and is often used by first aiders. These people have enrolled in a first aid course wherein training is provided for the proper administration of this free miracle drug and performing other first aid practices.
The Free Miracle Drug – Naloxone
Naloxone is hailed to be a miracle drug by medical experts. It reverses the effects of an opioid overdose immediately. This is done by blocking the opioid drugs from attaching to opioid receptors in the brain. Since this process is quickly done by naloxone, it is mostly used by first aid responders for opioid overdose as a nasal spray or pre-loaded syringe. In addition, calling 000 is advised for an assessment and possible additional naloxone administration. This miracle drug may now be accessed from participating pharmacies in Australia for free after it was previously available only with a prescription. It is a program invested by the government called the “Take Home Naloxone Program“.
The Take Home Naloxone Program
A $19.6 million-worth program was initiated by the Australian government to provide the so-called miracle drug for free to anyone who may need it without a prescription. This includes people who may experience, or witness, an opioid overdose or adverse reaction.
Who May Need Opioids?
These may cause several effects including changing how you feel pain. So, opioids are not generally recommended for long-term use, except for patients who have cancer or are in palliative care.
Why are Opioids Prescribed for Cancer Patients?
Cancer patients may experience increased or severe pain from the sickness, treatments, surgery, and tests they undergo. Common treatments for cancer may include:
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Therapy
- Stem Cell or Bone Marrow Transplant
- Hormone Therapy
Since all of these may cause pain, a cancer patient may be prescribed an opioid.
Common Opioids Used for Cancer Pain
Below is a list of common opioids prescribed for cancer patients:
Some of these are used regularly to treat chronic pain while others are only used for quick pain relief.
Who are Palliative Care Patients?
Patients in palliative care are those receiving medical care for the symptoms of their serious illness. One is heart failure where the below treatments may also be applied to cure it:
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor.
- Aldosterone antagonist.
- Valve repair or replacement.
- Hydralazine/nitrate combination.
- Cardiac resynchronization therapy.
- Implantable cardiac defibrillator.
- Heart transplant.
- Heart surgery.
These may all cause severe pain so the use of opioids may be prescribed.
How Many Australians Suffer from Heart Failure?
According to NPS Medicine Wise, 1-2% of the total Australian population suffers from heart failure. This number is composed mostly of the elderly wherein 10% among those 80 years old and above have this serious illness. Since this has dramatically increased over the years, there have been an increased number of people needing opioids.
Why there is a Need for a Free Miracle Drug?
The use of free miracle drug, Naxolone, is intended for opioid overdose. It may occur when:
- There is an opioid use disorder.
- Taking opioids is done by injection.
- There is a resumption of opioid use after an extended period of abstinence.
- Using prescription opioids is done without medical supervision.
- There is a high prescribed dosage of opioids.
- Using opioids is done in combination with alcohol and/or other substances or medicines that suppress respiratory function.
- There is a concurrent medical condition. (Like HIV, liver or lung diseases, or mental health conditions).
If an opioid overdose occurs from the above factors, it may lead to death if the free miracle drug, Naxolone is not administered immediately. It is one of the first aid steps that may be done if emergency help is not yet available.
When to Use the Free Miracle Drug?
Following are the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose:
- Pupils are pinpointed.
- The patient is unconscious.
- The patient experiences difficulties with breathing.
If the combination of the above occurs, it may mean an opioid overdose. Administration of the free miracle drug, Naxolone may be done. It may be performed by a first aider if there is one available in the area. In doing so, death from an opioid overdose may be prevented, which has occurred to many Australians over the years.
Death Rate from an Opioid Overdose in Australia
Opioid Overdose is the major cause of overdose deaths in Australia, according to the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre. They have the following summary in their 2020 report:
- 1,073 opioid-induced deaths among Australians (4.3 deaths per 100,000 people).
- Three times the number of deaths in males than in females with 68% (728 deaths) of opioid-induced deaths occurring among males.
- Most deaths occurred in Australians ageing 35-44 years old (29%, 311 deaths), followed by those in the 45-54 age group (25%, 271 deaths).
In their report, it was stated that the trend for 2018-2020 may appear similar to 2017, wherein the death rate from an opioid overdose has gradually increased.
Program for Use of the Free Miracle Drug
The Australian Government funded a Take Home Naloxone (THN) Pilot program that occurred from December 2019 to June 2021, and a report was released to provide findings of the beneficial program. This program allowed people at risk of an opioid overdose to access the miracle drug, Naxolone for free without a prescription. It involved pilot administrators and approved sites for access to the miracle drug. Such sites were in New South Wales, Southern Australia, and Western Australia, wherein accredited first aid course providers are also available. They provide first aid training in responding to different emergencies such as opioid overdose, wherein the use of the free miracle drug is advised.
Free Miracle Drug Saved Three Lives per Day
The program concluded that the miracle drug saved an estimated three lives each day during the program to date. It successfully resuscitated people in opioid overdose situations. The free miracle drug was able to reverse the effects of opioid 1,649 overdoses during the program.
Effects of the Program for the Use of the Miracle Drug
It was recommended for the Take Home Naloxone program be expanded and extended into an
ongoing national program. Especially since it has been established that there is an ongoing risk of opioid overdose for Australians. As an effect, the Australian government has expanded the program for 4 years starting 2022-2023 to provide the miracle drug nationwide for free. Naloxone has been available since 1 July 2022 for free without the requirement for a prescription.
The miracle drug, Naloxone, has been found to save three lives a day. It reverses the effects of an opioid overdose which is an ongoing risk, and the major cause of overdose deaths in Australia. This miracle drug is now available for free in participating pharmacies nationwide without the need for a prescription.