LIFE-saving overdose prevention kits circulating in Scotland could be missing needles after a warning from the UK’s medicine regulator, Scotland’s drug minister has warned.

Those who carry Prenoxad packs, also known as naloxone, are being advised to check the contents of each packet to ensure that there are two needles present as one could be missing.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) published a warning after it emerged that packs distributed by Macarthys Laboratories - trading as Martindale Pharma with headquarters in Essex - may not be complete.

READ MORE: John Swinney reacts to call for Humza Yousaf to be sacked at FMQs

It comes after three packs out of a batch of 9000 marketed in France were found to be missing needles.

While there have been no reports of any UK-circulated kits with missing needles, drugs policy minister Angela Constance urged those who carry the packs to check them and secure a replacement if necessary.

They life-saving kits are frequently used by those in front-line services in Scotland including the NHS and Police Scotland as part of a bid to reduce the number of drugs deaths in the country. 

Although Constance said this was a “rare event”, Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer (CPO) said that it was imperative checks were made as the packs do not work without both needles.

Constance said: “Naloxone is a life-saving drug which temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is one of a wide range of measures being used to address the public health emergency of drugs deaths.

The National: People who carrie naloxone have been urged to check their kits for missing needlesPeople who carrie naloxone have been urged to check their kits for missing needles (Image: Jane Barlow/PA Archive/PA Images)

“Following this alert from the MHRA I urge all those who carry a kit to check it has all its contents – anyone with concerns can return their kit and get a replacement.

“This is an extremely rare event and the appropriate authorities are taking steps to ensure there is no repeat. In the meantime, “Scotland’s successful naloxone programme continues to save lives and we encourage everyone who is at risk from overdose or who might witness one, to visit the Scottish Drugs Forum website to find out how to get training in the use of this medication and get a free kit.”

In response to a written question lodged by SNP MSP Emma Harper, Constance added: “Although I have received no reports of UK packs with missing needles to date, the potential for packs to contain fewer than two needles in all distributed batches cannot be ruled out.

READ MORE: FMQs: Fury as Tories HECKLE after MSP raises food bank use

"We do know, however, that kits from batches that could potentially be affected have been distributed in Scotland and we are therefore advising people to check their kits and to replace any that are incomplete.”

Alison Strath, Scotland’s CPO, added: “We have written to NHS boards and third sector organisations who may have supplies of Prenoxad and they are in the process of trying to trace anyone who may have been given an incomplete kit.

“However we are asking everyone with a pack of Prenoxad to check it contains two needles. “Without a needle to administer naloxone from the pre-filled syringe it cannot be used to reverse opioid overdose in an emergency.”

Strath explained that pack contents can be checked by holding them against a light source to identify how many needles are inside, or simply open up the pack, whilst being careful to avoid touching the pre-filled syringe.

She added: “If your pack does not contain two needles, you must take it back to whoever gave it to you for a replacement.

“If you are unsure on how to check your Prenoxad pack, you can take it to a healthcare professional or the service provider who initially supplied it to you and request assistance. This may be the local drug treatment service, a community pharmacy, a needle and syringe exchange programmes, a peer support groups, or an outreach worker.”

MHRA issued a Caution in Use Notice alert on Thursday ahead of the warning from Constance.

The agency’s advice reads: “If you see that your kit does not contain two needles, you must take it back to the provider who gave you the kit, or a community pharmacy involved in needle and syringe programmes, or a local substance misuse team or service provider, for a replacement.”