News / Edmonton

Fentanyl care in Edmonton ‘disappointing’: University of Alberta researcher

Researcher says more clinics should provide kits, treatment

Alberta Health Services need to do more to provide prevention kits and treatment for fentanyl users in Edmonton, says U of A researcher Elaine Hyshka, a researcher with the U of A’s public health department

Kevin Tuong/Metro

Alberta Health Services need to do more to provide prevention kits and treatment for fentanyl users in Edmonton, says U of A researcher Elaine Hyshka, a researcher with the U of A’s public health department

A University of Alberta researcher says she's disappointed that just two of the 29 walk-in clinics Alberta Health Services partnered with to offer naloxone kits to fentanyl users are in Edmonton.

“It’s important to have as many clinics as possible [offering naloxone] everywhere," said Elaine Hyshka, who specializes in substance misuse.

"Until Health Canada makes naloxone available over the counter, Alberta Health Services and the provincial government have a role to play to expand access to naloxone through community health service providers.

“I just hope access continues to expand beyond what they’ve done.”

On Feb. 2, Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced the names of clinics across Alberta that would prescribe and supply naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse a fentanyl overdose.

Four clinics are participating in Calgary, while the majority are based in northern towns and cities outside of Edmonton. 

Seventy-five people died from fentanyl overdoses in Edmonton last year, compared to 90 in Calgary.

Alberta Health Services spokesperson Kerry Williamson said that it’s up to individual clinics if they want to offer naloxone kits.

“We are expecting more clinics in Edmonton and elsewhere in the province to participate as they become more familiar with it and more people ask for it,” he said.

Hyshka said it’s also important that there are more places in the city — currently there are only three — that fentanyl users can go to to receive methadone and suboxone for treatment.

“There are a number of barriers that make it challenging — there is a limited availability of physicians willing and able to prescribe these treatment options because there are a number of courses and requirements they have to take,” she said.

Williamson said that AHS is working with physicians and the government to increase access and availability of opioid dependency treatment across Alberta.

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