Province eases access to overdose treatment kits Fentanyl deaths prompts province to take action
Starting May 13 the province has announc ed that it w ill b e providing medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses for free and w ithout a pr escription to Albertans at risk of overdose.
Naloxone k its – which c an temporarily reverse overdoses of fentanyl and other opiods – can now be provided by pharmacies without a prescription, the NDP gover nment announced Wednesday.
The move comes in response to the fentanyl epidemic which the Alb erta H ealth Mini ster Brandy Payne said has already caused the deaths of 69 Albertans in 2016 and 274 de aths associated w ith t he dr ug in 2015.
“Our hop e is that removing the pr escription r equirement will enc ourage mor e p eople to access these potentially lifesaving kits,” Payne said.
The k its ar e f ree of c harge and are available to any Albertan who is at risk of overdosing on f entanyl or ot her opioid s, such as heroin or prescription opiates like oxycontin.
Riverside V alue Dr ug Mar t pharmacist R ay Ains cough agrees with the move and said naloxone kits have been available a t R iverside sinc e t hey were first a pproved a s pr escription medicine.
“It’s definit ely ne eded w ith the r ise of f entanyl u se,” Ainscough said. “I t’s sad t hat we have t o ha ve it but it ’s s omething that can save lives.” N aloxone was changed from a S chedule 1 dr ug, which r equires a ph ysician’s pr escription, to Schedule 2, which only requires c onsultation w ith a phar macist t o de termine whether t he p atient r equires the kit.
The k its ma y als o b e pr ovided by patient’s agents, such as friends and family, for loved ones at risk.
Ainscough said t he move of providing k its f or f ree op ens access t o nalo xone t o addic ts who ma y ot herwise not b e willing t o pur chase t he livesaving k its. “If p eople p ay for them, would they get it? It has to be done – t he risk of de ath with f entanyl is e xtremely high.”
Alberta is t he s econd province in C anada t o allow nalo xone t o b e pr ovided w ithout a pr escription.
The pr ovince is als o pr oviding $3 million t o Alb erta Health Services to support the Opioid D ependency T reatment P lan Stra tegy, a t hreeyear pr oject t hat w ill e xpand counselling s ervices and ac - cess t o sub oxone and me thadone tr eatment; and inc rease of 20 p er cent from the number currently b eing treated at existing AHS clinics, a government release said.
Naloxone kits, used to temporarly reverse opioid overdoses from drugs like fentanyl, are now available for free to addicts. Kits will be administered by pharmacies based on consultations with patients or patient agents.