Community pharmacy naloxone supply, before and after rescheduling as an over‐the‐counter drug: sales and prescriptions data, 2014–2018

Objectives: To characterise the community pharmacy supply of naloxone by supply type — individual prescription, prescriber bag, and non‐dispensed (supplied over the counter or expired) — during 2014–2018; to examine whether the 2016 rescheduling of naloxone as an over‐the‐counter drug influenced non‐dispensed naloxone supply volume.

Results: During 2014–2018, 372 351 400 μg units of naloxone were sold to community pharmacies: non‐dispensed naloxone accounted for 205 866.5 units (55.3%), prescriber bags for 155 841 units (41.8%), and individual prescriptions for 10 643.5 units (2.9%). Population‐adjusted national naloxone sales to community pharmacies increased between 2014 and 2018 (per year: incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.15; 95% CI, 1.09–2.22). This increase was primarily attributable to increased volumes of prescriber bag naloxone (IRR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.50–1.78) and, to a lesser extent, increased individual prescription supply (IRR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.85–2.26). Non‐dispensed naloxone supply volume was unchanged at the national level (IRR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.85–1.01); changes in non‐dispensed supply immediately following rescheduling and subsequently were not statistically significant in time series analyses for most jurisdictions.

Conclusions: Total naloxone supply to community pharmacies in Australia increased between 2014 and 2018, but rescheduling that enabled over‐the‐counter access did not significantly influence the volume of non‐dispensed naloxone.

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