What naloxone doses should be used in adults to urgently reverse the effects of opioids?

Varinder Rai, Regional Medicines Information Manager, London Medicines Information ServiceSource London Medicines Information ServicePublished

The opioid antagonist, naloxone, is a highly effective antidote the use of which is potentially life-saving. The drug has a role in a wide range of clinical situations and practice contexts, mirroring the broad range of uses of opioids. However, whilst naloxone use is often vital, its use may also introduce potential risks, with these described in various prescribing and other guidance. The particular risks associated with inappropriate naloxone use have been highlighted in two NHS England Patient Safety Alerts.

This updated Medicines Q&A seeks to clarify the various dosing regimens available for naloxone in practice, and the factors that should be considered in balancing the need for treatment against the risk of inappropriate use. The document aims both to inform individual practice and to help development of organisational policies in this area. It aims to be useful across the range of settings in which the drug is used.