News / Edmonton

Alberta government rolls out Naloxone overdose medication

A life-saving medicine for people who overdose on fentanyl will soon be available across Alberta after the province signed grant agreements with social agencies.

Earlier this year, Alberta announced it would spend $300,000 and partner with social agencies to get the anti-dote Naloxone into the hand of drug users.

Naloxone works with any opioid including morphine, oxycontin and heroin, but a surge in fentanyl overdoses has the province rolling out the program

“The number of people who are dying with overdoses have increased substantially over the last two or three years,” said Dr. Michael Trew, the province’s chief addiction and mental health officer. “This is really a question about safety and saving lives.”

Mathew Wong, a nurse with the Streetworks program in Edmonton, said the grant money is just starting to roll in, but they hope to be able to spend more money on the program soon.

“The majority of the money is going to buy the Naloxone kits and they are going to be distributed across the province,” he said.

Wong said the kits include the drug itself as well as gloves and other items.

He said the kits aren’t just important for the Naloxone, but for the change to provide users some education.

“The first part is the information, all the practical tips that we can give to people and than the second part is the life-saving measures,” he said.

Wong said Naloxone is completely harmless and has no side effects, so there is no reason not to have it widely available.

“Things like an Epipen, which have many more side effects, we strap on to little kids to use.”

Fentanyl and Naloxone: By the numbers

  • A total of 50 deaths have been linked to fentanyl in the first few months of this year, following 120 in 2014, 66 in 2013, 29 in 2012 and six in 2011.
  • The province has budgeted $300,000, which is being spread across agencies in the province to start Naloxone programs.
  • Each kit costs about $40 to assemble depending on the cost of the drug.

More on Metronews.ca