Naloxone kits are now available without a prescription at a number of locations in Nanaimo.
Late last month, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia re-classified naloxone, used to reverse the effects of opioid drug overdoses such as fentanyl, as a Schedule II drug.
As a result, naloxone is now available at variety of medical health centers and is available for purchase without a prescription at pharmacies across the province.
Currently, naloxone kits are available at AIDS Vancouver Island, Harris House Health Clinic and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s emergency department. They will also be available at a number of pharmacies within the coming days and weeks.
Dr. Paul Hasselback, chief medical officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, said the increasing availability of naloxone kits is vital to reducing overdoses.
“The reason why we are trying very hard to get naloxone available is the product that is out on the street right now is more likely to lead to fatal overdose,” he said. “As long as that product is out there and we are seeing fatal overdoses, this is our best protection.”
The college’s decision to re-classify naloxone came shortly after a decision by Health Canada to revise the drug’s classification on the prescription drug list, which was done in an effort to make naloxone more accessible to Canadians.
Naloxone is currently not covered under the province’s PharmaCare program.
Hasselback said despite recent announcement by the federal and provincial governments, he isn’t expecting to see fentanyl overdose fatalities decline anytime soon, adding that the habitual drug users themselves are going to have to become more comfortable with having someone around while they use.
“Many of the situations that we are looking at where fatalities are involved, there was no one else around or observing when the consumption was occurring,” he said. “If there isn’t observation at that point in time, the active ingredient in the injecting may be sufficient to lead to an immediate overdose that can be fatal. You need someone there at that point time to administer the naloxone.”For more information and a list of locations, please visit www.towardtheheart.com/site-locator.