£1.9 million to move Scottish prisoners from methadone to buvidal


Prisoners in Scotland will be moved from methadone to buvidal, £150,000 will be invested to support residential rehabilitation for people leaving prison and the supply of naloxone is to be expanded.


These new measures have been designed to assist those affected by drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic have been announced by the Scottish Government.


The measures specifically include the following:


  • £1.9 million to support people in prison on prescribed Opiate Substitution Treatment (OST) to switch to a new longer-acting form called buvidal.
  • £150,000 for an enhanced offer of residential rehab to people leaving prison during the pandemic to support their recovery and to reduce the pressure on local services.
  • widening the availability of overdose reversal drug Naloxone while measures to tackle coronavirus remain in place.


Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:


“While this public health crisis is ongoing, we must not lose sight of the fact there continues to be a significant number of highly vulnerable individuals who are at great risk of harm as a result of alcohol and drug use, who continue to need a wide range of help and support.


“Buvidal is an alternative to methadone or buprenorphine tablets which is administered by a seven or 28 day injectable dose, rather than daily administration. By making this available to people in prisons, we will support continuity of care, while reducing the need for daily contact and reducing pressure on our front line prison officers and NHS staff.


“Furthermore, a high proportion of those leaving or about to leave prison will require support for their recovery from problem alcohol or drug. Funding to pay for additional residential rehabilitation places will support their recovery and to reduce the pressure on local services.


“I welcome the Lord Advocate’s statement of prosecution policy in respect of the distribution of naloxone during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19. This will help to ensure that we can continue to support those affected by drug use and keep them safe.”


Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman commented:


“We’ve already announced a number of measures to ensure that treatment and support services are not disrupted, during this crisis.  As part of that, we have increased the availability of naloxone – a medication which reverses opiate overdose.


“Under existing UK legislation, supplies of naloxone can be held by non-drug treatment services for use in an emergency, but not for onward distribution.  In the current crisis that could present an obstacle to people receiving the treatment that they need.


“So that’s why the Lord Advocate has confirmed that for the duration of this crisis it would not be in the public interest to prosecute any individual working for a service registered with the Scottish Government who supplies naloxone in an emergency, to save a life.


“I hope that statement provides confidence and certainty to relevant professionals, as they carry out their important work.  And I hope it will further ensure that people can get the treatment they need when they need it.


“I am also announcing today new support for people who are in prison or about to leave prison.


“We are providing £150,000 to enhance residential rehabilitation services.   It will increase the number of residential places available, for people leaving prison.


“And we are making up to £1.9 million available to support people in prison, who need opiate substitution therapy – or OST as it is known.  That is currently around a quarter of Scotland’s prison population.


“The funding will make a new treatment – called buvidal – available to people in prison. Unlike other substitutes, buvidal is administered as a 7 or 28 day injectable dose, rather than daily.


“This change will help to relieve pressure on our prison service.  It will ensure continuity of treatment, for people in prison.  And it is a further way in which we are trying to provide the right support during this pandemic, to those who need it.



This circular is being shared under the Open Government Copyright licence.


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