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Make an antidote to opioids more available: report

Last Updated Feb 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm PDT

(File Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Increasing access for an antidote that can save the lives of people who have overdosed on drugs like fentanyl is the key recommendation of a new report.

Another suggestion from the BC Drug Overdose and Alert Partnership is the push to make the medication non-prescription.

A deepening concern for a dramatic jump in overdose deaths prompted the report, says Jane Buxton with the BC Centre for Disease Control.

She believes one of the best options available is a powerful antidote called Naloxone. “When there is opioid on the brain, which is suppressing breathing, that is where the problems occur. Naloxone comes along and pushes it off the receptors in the brain and starts the breathing again.”

“Increasing access to Naloxone through changes in practice and also changes in policy,” she suggests. “We recommend improved education and training and services, both for people who use drugs [and also] their family members, the staff, and also… medical professionals.”

BC’s Health Minister Terry Lake is welcoming the recommendations and is already pushing to make Naloxone more accessible. “We are working with the Colleges of Pharmacists for instance to make sure that pharmacists have a plan so that they have the education necessary on this specific drug when it is used over the counter.”

There are currently 144 sites in BC where addicts can get the take-home Naloxone program, allowing them to have a kit at home in case they overdose.

Last year saw a 27 per cent increase in overdose deaths for opioids compared to 2014. The annual overdose death rate in this province has increased 50 percent between 2010 and 2015, with the majority of those connected to drugs like fentanyl.

Jane Buxton joined our afternoon drive show to talk about Naloxone. You can listen to the entire interview here.