Transport and logistics have been the main focus of UK Government’s new strategy to tackle the nation’s opioid crisis.
The Government will introduce a national pharmaca plan next month to set out how the UK is tackling the problem.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC: “We want to get the drugs to people who need them, we want to reduce the number of deaths.”
He said he expected that the plan would see the number, and the costs, of taking the drugs down.
The scheme will be the first of its kind in the UK, and will be rolled out across the country over the next few months.
A number of drugs, including morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone, are currently available to UK patients.
The plan is being overseen by a new Government-appointed taskforce, headed by Sir David Nicholson, the former Health Secretary.
The Department of Health said it will also work with the pharmaceutical industry and other sectors to support the plan.
Sir David said: “This is a big project.
It’s going to take time to get it right, but we are going to get there.”
The government has already announced a £10 million fund to buy and develop drugs for opioid addiction, and a £50 million fund for research and development.
The drug-related deaths in the country are expected to increase by almost a third over the coming five years.
Mr Grayling said: ‘I think we will get there’ Government will also invest £1 million a year to create new drug-specific research and innovation centres to help develop drugs.
Dr Matthew Taylor, of the UK’s leading drug addiction treatment service, said that it was encouraging to see the Government “getting on with the job” and that the drug crisis was “one of the biggest public health problems that we face”.
He said: We have a very good understanding of the problem and the need to get to grips with it.
“I think that the government are getting on with their work, and are working hard to get this right.”
Dr Taylor added that the Government would not take a “pander” approach to the issue.
“We are going into the taskforce and I think the Government are really looking to engage with other groups and other experts to try and understand what the root causes are.”
He added that a national plan was not the answer, as the UK “is a country of laws and people need to be protected”.
But he said it was important that the country did not fall into the “paradox” of saying the problem is a “one-off”.
Dr Taylor said that the UK had the world’s highest death toll from opioids in terms of deaths per 100,000 people.
In the UK the rate of deaths is 2.7 deaths per 10,000, which is the highest in the world.
The National Drug Strategy aims to reduce this figure to below 1.0.
Dr Taylor told the Radio 4 Today programme that the problem was being “resurgent” in other countries around the world, with the number one cause of death from opioid overdose increasing by a third in the past decade.
“If we were just going to ignore the numbers and just take a pander approach, then we would not be doing anything about it,” he said.