Naloxone is a prescription-only medicine that, ordinarily, can only be supplied on foot of a prescription. It is use administered for the treatment of known or suspected narcotic overdose.
However, under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003, as amended (S.I. No. 540 of 2003), trained, non-medical persons, employed or engaged by a listed organisation, are enabled to administer certain prescription–only medicines to a person, without a prescription, for the purpose of saving their life or reducing severe distress in an emergency situation. The specific emergency medicines are listed in the Tenth Schedule to the Regulations and include intra-muscular and intranasal naloxone preparations following amendments introduced in 2018.
Listed organisations can include An Garda Síochána, the Fire Service, prisons, schools, sports clubs and community groups. In order for an organisation to avail of an emergency medicine without the need for a prescription, members of that organisation must complete an approved course of training regarding the administration of such medicines and the management of any adverse reaction. The Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) has established a framework for the education and training of persons to safely and competently administer these medicines to those urgently requiring care.
While PHECC approve these training courses, the decision to undertake the training lies solely with the organisation that wishes to gain approval under the Regulations to administer one of the scheduled medicines.
It is important to note however that notwithstanding the above, there is an existing and long-standing practice whereby any person may administer or assist in the administration of a person’s personally prescribed medicine for the purpose of saving their life or reducing severe distress in an emergency situation. If a person has been prescribed a medicine, but is unable to administer it to themselves, such as in the case of an overdose, there is no legal impediment to another person administering that medicine to the patient.