Aims: To assess the effectiveness for Scotland's National Naloxone Programme (NNP) by comparison between 2006-10 (before) and 2011-13 (after NNP started in January 2011) and to assess cost-effectiveness.
Design: This was a pre-post evaluation of a national policy. Cost-effectiveness was assessed by prescription costs against life-years gained per opioid-related death (ORD) averted.
Setting: Scotland, in community settings and all prisons.
Intervention: Brief training and standardized naloxone supply became available to individuals at risk of opioid overdose.
Measurements: ORDs as identified by National Records of Scotland. Look-back determined the proportion of ORDs who, in the 4 weeks before ORD, had been (i) released from prison (primary outcome) and (ii) released from prison or discharged from hospital (secondary). We report 95% confidence intervals for effectiveness in reducing the primary (and secondary) outcome in 2011-13 versus 2006-10. Prescription costs were assessed against 1 or 10 life-years gained per averted ORD.
Findings: In 2006-10, 9.8% of ORDs (193 of 1970) were in people released from prison within 4 weeks of death, whereas only 6.3% of ORDs in 2011-13 followed prison release (76 of 1212, P < 0.001; this represented a difference of 3.5% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.6-5.4%)]. This reduction in the proportion of prison release ORDs translates into 42 fewer prison release ORDs (95% CI = 19-65) during 2011-13, when 12,000 naloxone kits were issued at current prescription cost of £225,000. Scotland's secondary outcome reduced from 19.0 to 14.9%, a difference of 4.1% (95% CI = 1.4-6.7%).
Conclusions: Scotland's National Naloxone Programme, which started in 2011, was associated with a 36% reduction in the proportion of opioid-related deaths that occurred in the 4 weeks following release from prison.
Keywords: Before/after policy evaluation; causality; effectiveness; national naloxone programme; opioid-related deaths; prison release opioid-related deaths; statistical power; take-home naloxone.
© 2015 The Authors. Addiction published by JohnWiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.