Drug’s antidote must be more readily available

Health Canada should take immediate action to make Narcan available without a prescription

The latest rash of overdose deaths sweeping across the country is showing us, once again, that no community is immune to the terrible costs of drug abuse. And once again, it is clearly evident that people have less problems obtaining their drug of choice than receiving help with their addictions.

The drug fentanyl has been responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country, with Vancouver police responding to 16 apparent fentanyl overdoses in one day alone earlier this month. And Victoria Police Insp. Scott McGregor says the drug is probably as prevalent here as it is anywhere else.

In Victoria, the B.C. coroners office has recorded seven deaths linked to fentanyl since January 2012.

Ironically, changes made to the drug OxyContin intended to prevent abuse of the opioid likely led to the rise in the use of fentanyl, which is 20 times more potent. The drug is often passed off as OxyContin or mixed with other street drugs such as heroin.

Narcan, an effective antidote to fentanyl overdose, has been supplied to hospitals for decades. It can restore normal breathing and consciousness within three to five minutes of an injection. The problem is that if an overdose occurs in a bathroom or back alley rather than a hospital ER, that help may come too late.

In B.C., users can also obtain a take-home kit to have that antidote available when they need it. The kits are available by prescription in dozens of sites around the province including at least two in Victoria. But those kits are only effective if they are readily available, and the prescription-only status is keeping them out of the hands of many users not ready to bring their addiction into the open along with their family members.

Health Canada has agreed to review whether Narcan should be made available without a prescription, although the process could take up to 18 months. But that will be too late for hundreds whose lives might hang in the balance.

 

Just Posted

VicPD catches impaired driver near elementary school

Citizens alerted police to driver near James Bay Community School

Victoria’s Belfry Theatre hosts its first ‘relaxed performance’ for a diverse audience

Performance of Every Brilliant Thing is first to pilot the option

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Chilliwack family’s dog missing after using online pet-sitting service

Frankie the pit bull bolted and hit by a car shortly after drop off through Rover.com

B.C. wildlife experts urge hunters to switch ammo to stop lead poisoning in birds

OWL, in Delta, is currently treating two eagles for lead poisoning

Most Read