NALOXONE KITS AVAILABLE
At some pharmacies as well as Ally Centre.
Even though the provincial government isn’t currently covering the costs of take-home naloxone kits there are still many places to buy the kits in Cape Breton.
Naloxone is an effective drug for stopping the respiratory failure that occurs when having an opioid overdose and is effective in saving lives.
People wanting the kits have to be trained before they can buy one. This training includes how to use the kit and what do when you see an overdose and is done at the site of purchase.
The Ally Centre of Cape Breton is one place to get a naloxone kit at no charge — anonymously.
Part of a pilot project in 2016, the Ally Centre was given 300 of the kits to distribute to drug users and people at risk. Now, thanks to the provincial government’s new opioid strategy, anyone can get it.
“Because of the new opioid strategy announced by the province, we were able to hire a person to do the naloxone training,” said Christine Porter, executive director of the Ally Centre.
“The provincial government has broadened the access to naloxone. Before, it was for people who were using opioids, or who have used opioids, or are on methadone. Now it’s for family, friends, anybody who could come in contact with folks who they may be able to save their lives.”
Pharmacies have been able to hand out the naloxone kit without a prescription since August 2016 and many in Cape Breton have them.
They aren’t free; the cost is between $50-$70 for the kit with training and about $30 for the kit after training is completed.
Tyler Kraupp, pharmacy operations manager for five Pharmasave drug stores in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, thinks the cost is keeping people from getting the kits.
“Right now, as far as I know, none of our pharmacies have dispensed them, because they are a bit pricey,” he said, confirming the stores he manages got the kits as soon as they were available without a prescription.
“A lot of our stores do methadone so we thought it was appropriate to have them, just in case,” Kraupp explained.
New guidelines from the College of Pharmacists dictates all pharmacies that have methadone clinics must have naloxone kits for sale and Kraupp thinks this, plus the province making the kits free, will help increase access to the life-saving drug.
“If a concerned parent came in and said, ‘I think my son or daughter is a drug user,’ we would give it to them. We just need to train them first. We will give them to anyone. They don’t have to be a user,” he said.
“If the provincial government is covering the cost, I think it will improve access and availability to people who need them and I think that is a good thing.”
By Sept. 1, the province will be covering the costs of all naloxone kits and training done by 300 pharmacies provincewide.
Porter is “grateful” to see the province taking action against the opioid crisis.
“It’s a long road ahead of us, I fear. You know, fentanyl is here, in what amounts I don’t know. But we’ve been in an opioid crisis since 2003 in Cape Breton. Fentanyl, that is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
“We have big problems here in Cape Breton. We have to pull together as a community — physicians, law enforcement, community groups and everybody that is impacted by this, to get things moving, so we can save lives.”
A naloxone kit has everything you need to help someone who is suffering from an opioid overdose. Inside are a pair of protective gloves, a protective mask, two shots of the drug, and a needle for injecting into the thigh. Training must be done before you can get a kit and this training can be done where kits are available.