Distribution of intranasal naloxone to potential opioid overdose bystanders in Sweden: Effects on overdose mortality in a full region-wide study

Anders Håkansson, Marianne Alanko Blomé, Pernilla Isendahl, Maria Landgren, Ulf Malmqvist, Katja Troberg

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikel i vetenskaplig tidskriftPeer review


Objectives Distribution of take-home naloxone is suggested to reduce opioid-related fatalities, but few studies have examined the effects on overdose deaths in the general population of an entire community. This study aimed to assess the effects on overdose deaths of a large-scale take-home naloxone programme starting in June 2018, using an observational design with a historic control period. Design From the national causes of death register, deaths diagnosed as X42 or Y12 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, ICD-10) were registered as overdoses. Numbers of overdoses were calculated per 100 000 inhabitants in the general population, and controlled for data including only individuals with a prior substance use disorder in national patient registers, to focus on effects within the primary target population of the programme. The full intervention period (2019-2021) was compared with a historic control period (2013-2017). Setting Skåne county, Sweden. Participants General population. Interventions Large-scale take-home naloxone distribution to individuals at risk of overdose. Primary and secondary outcome measures Decrease in overdose deaths per 100 000 inhabitants, in total and within the population with substance use disorder diagnosis. Results Annual average number of overdose deaths decreased significantly from 3.9 to 2.8 per 100 000 inhabitants from the control period to the intervention period (a significant decrease in men, from 6.7 to 4.3, but not in women, from 1.2 to 1.3). Significant changes remained when examining only prior substance use disorder patients, and decreases in overdose deaths could not be attributed to a change in treatment needs for opioid use disorders in healthcare and social services. Conclusions The present study, involving 3 years of take-home naloxone distribution, demonstrated a decreased overdose mortality in the population, however, only in men. The findings call for further implementation of naloxone programmes, and for further studies of potential effects and barriers in women. Trial registration number NCT03570099.

TidskriftBMJ Open
StatusPublished - 2024 jan.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi


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