Andrey Rylkov Foundation
for Health and Social Justice

PRESS RELEASE: activists will be picketing the MoH in Moscow on the International Overdose Awareness Day



On August 31 – the International Overdose Awareness Day – activists will hold a series of one-person pickets in Moscow to draw the attention of the state and society to the issue of drugs overdose and possible ways to solve it.

Overdose is one of the main causes of death among injecting drug users. In most cases, it can be prevented by using an efficient and inexpensive medicine called “naloxone”, the opioid receptor blocker.

In Russia, the number of people dying of drug overdose remains critically high. In 2016, the Chief Narcologist of the Ministry of Health of Russia reported that the number of such deaths reaches 8 000 cases per year. [1] For comparison, an unprecedented number of overdose deaths (8 400) was registered in 30 states in 2015 (28 countries of the European Union, Turkey and Norway). [2]

Throughout the world, the problem continues to quickly escalate along with uprising of new synthetic drugs – fentanyl and carfentanil, which are many times stronger than heroin.

In order to prevent overdoses, many countries are developing programs to increase the availability of naloxone among injecting drug users, excluding this medicine from the list of prescription drugs, thus making it more accessible for drug users and social workers, as well as giving an opportunity to produce naloxone in the form of a nasal spray.

At the same time, there are no effective overdose prevention programs in Russia while naloxone remains a prescription drug and therefore isn’t accessible for most people who use drugs.

In an attempt to influence this situation, on 31st of August activists of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, ENPUD and the Forum of People who Use Drugs will hold a series of single-person pickets and will file petitions demanding the following:

  • introduction of a coherent strategy to reduce the overdose rate in Russia;
  • introduction of programs that increase access to naloxone among those who need it to save their lives;
  • excluding naloxone from the list of prescription drugs;
  • introduce over-the-counter naloxone nasal sprays for sale at pharmacies.

The pickets will be held:

- near The Ministry of Health of Russia (Rahmanovsky, 3) at 14:00.

- near “Moscow Endocrine Plant” (Novohohlovskaya, 25) at 15:00.

The International Day of Overdose Awareness was first proclaimed in 2001 in Melbourne (Australia). Its origin is related to the needle exchange program in the city thanks to one of its employees – Sally Finn. Striken by the large number of people dying from overdose, she took the initiative to organize an event in their memory. A decade later, many countries of the world follow this tradition and raise awareness on overdose on the 31st of August.

Contact details for the media:

Anna Kinchevskaya,, +7 965 295 3993


[1] About 8 000 people die each year from a drug overdose in Russia. TASS, 04.04.2016.

[2] European monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction. Report: Preventing overdose deaths in Europe.

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