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Lord Advocate's guidelines

Lord Advocate's guidelines in relation to the supply of naloxone during the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic

First published

01 Jun 2020

Last updated

11 Jan 2022

Lord Advocate's guidelines: supply of naloxone during COVID-19 pandemic

Naloxone is an emergency antidote for overdoses caused by heroin and other opioids such as methadone, morphine and fentanyl.

In 2005 naloxone was added to a list of medicines that anyone can legally administer in an emergency to save a life.

Since 2015 individuals employed or engaged in the provision of commissioned drug treatment services can, as part of their role, supply naloxone to others for use in an emergency to save a life

During the period of disruption caused by COVID- 19/ Coronavirus, the drug treatment services which usually supply naloxone to at-risk individuals and those who come into contact with them, are restricted in their ability to carry out this function. As a result, other services may require to distribute it to others in order that it may be used to save lives.

For the period of disruption caused by COVID-19/ Coronavirus, the Lord Advocate has confirmed that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute any individual working for a service registered with the Scottish Government Population Health Directorate who supplies naloxone to another person for use in an emergency to save a life. Nor will it be in the public interest to prosecute employees of NHS bodies who supply such services with stocks of naloxone. This statement of policy is subject to the condition that appropriate instruction on the use of naloxone and basic life support training will be provided to persons receiving the medication for such use alongside the medication.

Services who wish to distribute naloxone with the benefit of this statement of prosecution policy are required to register with the Scottish Government’s Population Health Directorate who will ensure that they are provided with support and training.

This guidance will be regularly reviewed. The Lord Advocate may withdraw it at any time. The Scottish Government’s Population Health Directorate will ensure that services are notified when it ceases to apply.

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