The results of a pilot programme to make the antidote drug Naloxone available for users of heroin and other drugs, to prevent overdose, show that potentially five deaths were prevented.
Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of opiates like heroin, morphine and methadone.
In all, 600 service providers, frontline workers and relatives of those at risk of overdose, were trained on administering the drug and the HSE programme was piloted ind Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and Cork.
Pre-filled Naloxone injections were given to opiate users to take home on prescription.
There were 95 prescriptions issued, most in Dublin and Limerick.
During the project, five administrations of Naloxone and potentially fatal overdoses were prevented in five males.
In each case, the Naloxone was administered to a person other than to whom it had been prescribed.
The report of the project today says that the availability of and easy access to Naloxone was crucial to the successful reversal of overdose.
In all five cases an ambulance was called.
Naloxone is usually used in emergency departments to help reverse extreme drowsiness, slow breathing and loss of consciousness.
It works within minutes and has been proven internationally.
The Naxolone Demonstration Project was set up by the HSE in 2015, to test the feasibility of making the drug available for use by opioid users to prevent death from drug overdose.
The project cost €62,500.
The report recommends that the roll out of Naloxone should continue in a planned way.