Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 | Page 4

News LOCAL AUTHORITIES FAILING TO PROVIDE SUFFICIENT NALOXONE THE AMOUNTS OF NALOXONE BEING PROVIDED BY LOCAL COUNCILS AND PRISONS are ‘extremely limited’, warns a new report from Release. While all but three of the 152 local authorities who responded to Freedom of Information requests now supply the overdose-reversing medication – up from 90 per cent a year ago (DDN, February 2018, page 4) – the amount being dispensed is still ‘drastically insufficient’, says Release. Just 16 take-home kits were provided for every 100 people using opiates in 2017-18, equating to 16 per cent coverage, with many areas also failing to provide kits to ‘key populations most likely to experience or witness’ an overdose. Almost 60 per cent failed to provide kits to clients accessing opioid-related treatment or services at community pharmacies, a quarter did not provide them to people in contact with outreach services for homeless populations, and more than 10 per cent failed to supply them to families and friends of people who use opioids. While Darlington was the only local authority in England that did not report either having a take-home programme or plans to introduce one, low levels of coverage elsewhere were ‘particularly shameful’ given record rates of opioid-related deaths and the fact that naloxone is ‘cheap to acquire and has no potential for misuse’, says Release. Many prisons were also failing to provide naloxone despite the acknowledged high risk of overdose in the first two weeks after people are released, the report says. Just over half of the 109 prisons that reported on take- home naloxone had a programme in place, and only one in five young offenders institutions. Failing to provide kits DIVERSIONS DOWN ILLEGAL DIVERSIONS OF DIAZEPAM FELL BY MORE THAN 70 PER CENT BETWEEN 2016 AND 2017, according to MHRA figures, with trading of zolpidem and top-strength temazepam also both down by nearly 20 per cent. ‘We will continue to track down and prosecute those recklessly endangering public safety by illegally selling prescription medicines,’ said MHRA head of enforcement Alastair Jeffrey. ‘Those involved have no concern about your 4 | drinkanddrugsnews | March 2019 to people upon release meant that prisons were not fulfilling their duty of care, the charity states. Release is calling for each authority to provide at least one kit to every person in the community using opiates, as well as making kits available to anyone else who requests them. People not in contact with treatment should be able to easily access naloxone through distribution points like community pharmacies, GP SHORT ODDS NEW STANDARDS TO PROTECT CHILDREN from ‘irresponsible’ gambling advertising have been published by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP). The guidelines prohibit online gambling adverts being targeted at people ‘likely to be under 18’, along with the use of celebrities, sportspeople or others who are – or appear to be – under 25 as well as ‘unacceptable’ content that includes licensed characters from films or TV, such as certain types of animated characters. ‘Playing at the margins of regulatory compliance is a gamble at the best of times, but for gambling advertisers it’s particularly ill-advised, especially when the welfare of children is at stake,’ said CAP director Shahriar Coupal. Protecting children and young people – gambling guidance at www.asa.org.uk ADMISSIONS UP surgeries, ambulance services and peer networks, it adds, while every adult prison should also offer kits and training to everyone prior to release on an ‘opt-out’ basis. ‘There is a crisis of drug-related deaths in this country and many local authorities are failing to protect people from fatally overdosing on opioids,’ said policy researcher at Release, Zoe Carre. ‘The amount of take-home naloxone given out nationally has been abysmally low. This life-saving medication is not reaching those who most need it. People who use drugs are an extremely stigmatised group in society, facing significant health risks, which are exacerbated by the government’s ideological abstinence-focused approach to drug use. If any other group of people were needlessly facing barriers to accessing a cheap and effective life-saving medication, there would be widespread public outrage.’ Finding a needle in a haystack: take-home naloxone in England 2017/18 at www.release.org.uk ‘Those involved have no concern about your health and are making money from vulnerable people.’ AlAsTAir Jeffrey health and are making money from vulnerable people.’ THERE WERE 338,000 HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS in 2017-18 where the ‘main cause’ was a result of drinking alcohol, according to NHS Digital, a 15 per cent increase on a decade ago. People over 45 accounted for almost 70 per cent of the admissions. The figures are based on a meas ure where alcohol-related diseases, conditions or injuries were the primary reason for admission – using the broader measure of ‘a range of other conditions that could be caused by alcohol’, admission numbers rise to 1.2m. Statistics on alcohol, England 2019 at digital.nhs.uk MAYORAL MOTION A MOTION CALLING ON LONDON MAYOR SADIQ KHAN TO ‘TAKE THE LEAD’ on raising awareness of hepatitis C has been unanimously passed in the London Assembly. The motion was tabled by assembly member Susan Hall, who told the recent Seven years to elimination conference that it was ‘a travesty’ that hep C had not been part of the mayor’s report into health inequalities (DDN, February, page 13). ‘Tackling hepatitis C is a common-sense issue which can deliver immense improvements to quality of life for some of the most marginalised people in society, as well as huge cost savings,’ said LJWG policy lead Dee Cunniffe. ‘London could be the first city in the world to eliminate this deadly virus if efforts are ramped up.’ WHO DRINKS? WHO HAS ISSUED A NEW SERIES OF FACTSHEETS on alcohol consumption and policy for 30 European countries. In 2016, more than 40 per cent of EU traffic deaths and over 20 per cent of injury deaths were the result of alcohol. Alcohol consumption, harm and policy response fact sheets at www.who.int. www.drinkanddrugsnews.com