Portsmouth addicts handed drug overdose antidote in bid to cut deaths

EMERGENCY antidotes to overdoses have been dished out to pharmacies in a bid to cut the number of drug-related deaths.

It comes as overall drug misuse deaths have more than doubled in 10 years from 23 to 52 in Portsmouth, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Sophie-Marie Furmedge with the antidote drug at Laly's Pharmacy in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth

Sophie-Marie Furmedge with the antidote drug at Laly's Pharmacy in Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth

Ageing drug addicts suffering from health complications, including liver disease and Hepatitis C, have been linked to the growing numbers.

But now Portsmouth City Council, the ninth worst unitary authority in the country for drug-linked deaths, has funded and rolled out the use of a drug, Naloxone, in a bid to reverse overdoses. Around 400 kits have been issued.

Eight pharmacies in the city that see a high number of people use their needle exchanges have been given the drug, which is an emergency antidote for opiods and opiates, including heroin, morphine and fentanyl.

Councillor Matthew Winnington, cabinet member for heath, wellbeing & social care, said: ‘The increase in drug related deaths is a national trend and not one exclusive to Portsmouth.

‘We are working hard to reduce drug related deaths in Portsmouth as people are dying much younger than they should be and these deaths are avoidable.’

The number of drug misuse deaths in Portsmouth, Gosport, Fareham and Havant has gone from 38 in 2006-08 to 104 in 2015-17.

Overall drug poisoning deaths, which includes misuse deaths, increased from 61 to 156 in nearly 10 years.

He added: ‘In Portsmouth we are seeing an increase in older drug users dying. This is often due to health complications linked to drug use, for example liver disease caused by Hepatitis C from injecting drugs.

‘Addiction, mental illness and homelessness are also common factors in drug related deaths in Portsmouth, and as with other areas there are a greater number of drug deaths in areas of higher deprivation.’

Addicts and their carers have been given Naloxone with training so they know how to use it if needed.

A total of 3,756 deaths involving legal and illegal drugs were registered in England and Wales in 2017.