News / Edmonton

Alberta continuing work on prevention plans as fentanyl deaths spike

The province is working “flat-out” to get an overdose prevention program up and running as the rate of fentanyl overdoes deaths continues to rise.

The province’s chief medical examiner has determined that fentanyl, an opioid painkiller, was a factor in 50 deaths in just the first two months of 2015.

The drug claimed 120 lives in 2014, but just four years ago only six people died of similar overdoses.

Just before the provincial election, the government announced plans to spend $300,000 on a naloxone program.

Naloxone is a drug that can be injected into a person experiencing an opiod overdose, which mitigates the affect of the drug and can save lives.

Alberta Health spokesperson Carolyn Ziegler said the rising number of deaths is another indicator the program is needed and that they’re doing the best the can to get it going.

“It’s a concern over 2014 and into 2015 and that’s why they’re working so hard to get it off the ground,” he said.

“They’re working flat-out. There hasn’t been issues or delays."

Ziegler said they hope to have he program helping people within a few weeks.

Edmonton’s Street Works program has been running a naloxone program for almost a decade and the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta recently launched a program in response to a wave of overdoses.

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