News / Calgary

Alberta government announces 4,000 naloxone kits now available in pharmacies

Kits will be made available free for those with a prescription

About 300 pharmacies have signed up to provide take-home naloxone kits to fight the deadly drug fentanyl.

On Wednesday, the government announced the province's pharmacies are providing the kits to addicts at risk.

“We’re expanding the availability of these kits so they’re in closer reach to Albertans at risk,” said Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne. “Pharmacies are a good fit because they’re in people’s communities, they’re open late and they’re staffed by caring professional pharmacists.”

About 1,100 pharmacies in Alberta are eligible to participate in the voluntary program, and 4,000 kits will be distributed. The kits will be free of charge at participating pharmacies. 

Each pharmacy will carry a maximum of two kits. 

Jody Johnson, manager of member services at the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association, said pharmacies are only allowed two kits due to the limited supply. 

“They can certainly replenish their supply of kits if they’re require,” he said. “It’s just to get the initial supply to pharmacies and make it as broadly available as possible.”

The program expansion rings in at $108,000 for the kits as well as grant funding.

Alberta Health Services will be creating a map on its website to show where the kits will be available in the province.

With the increased access to naloxone via pharmacies, the Wildrose is questioning why firefighters and addictions workers who would be in a position to offer the life-saving drug to users aren't allowed to receive naloxone kits.

“Addicts don’t overdose during regular business hours,” said Drew Barnes, Wildrose health critic and MLA for Cypress - Medicine Hat. “With the current fentanyl crisis taking place in our province, we need to be looking at common-sense solutions to increase access to naloxone kits.”

There were 272 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Alberta last year — up from 120 in 2014. 

So far, naloxone kits have saved 75 lives, though health authorities say that number could be underreported. 

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