Alberta to expand access to naloxone to deal with spike in fatal fentanyl overdoses
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The government will dramatically increase the availability of the drug naloxone to deal with a troubling spike in fentanyl overdoses.
Dr. James Talbot, the province’s chief medical officer of health announced Wednesday he would be expanding access to the drug, which is currently offered through Edmonton’s Streetworks program.
“This is a first step and we’re going to do our best to try and prevent as many of these deaths as possible,” he said.
Over the last four years, overdoses from the drug fentanyl have skyrocketed starting at just six in 2011 to an astonishing 120 last year.
“Every death is a tragedy, but these are preventable death and that makes them even more so,” said Talbot.
Naloxone works as an antidote for opioid drug overdoses.
Talbot said they plan to partner with community programs that work with high-risk populations in order to make the drug more widely available. He said Streetworks will serve as the model for how the province will roll out the program.
“That program was groundbreaking in Canada. It was the first in of it’s kind. B.C. and Ontario modeled their programs on that,” he said.
Marliss Taylor, who manages the Streetworks Program, said she is thrilled to see the province embracing the idea.
“It certainly means a lot of work ahead, but we’re excited to do that,” she said.
Perhaps the only disappointing part of the province’s announcement Taylor said is why the expansion is happening.
“It’s just too bad it had to happen, because so many people died.”
- Fentanyl pills are much more powerful than oxycontin, but in some cases fentanyl is being sold as oxycontin leading to overdoses.