In the first nine months of 2015, more than 213 people died from overdosing on fentanyl in Alberta. In response to the growing use of the opioid, the province is expanding access to a life-saving drug that can help reverse fentanyl overdoses.
A first batch of 2000 kits was made available to harm reduction offices around the province earlier of those year, and 100 of those were given to the HIV North office here in Grande Prairie. Executive Director Sue Belcourt Rothe says this new expansion of the naloxone program will make it more mainstream, especially in smaller Alberta communities.
“We’ve gone out to a couple communities around Grande Prairie, but there’s not a lot of travel budget for this program at this point in time. Having it available in other communities will be very beneficial, especially if it’s available in community pharmacies or in the emergency room.”
According to the Health Ministry, more registered nurses will be able to prescribe naloxone, in addition administering and distributing the drug. Paramedics, who are currently able to administer the drug, will also be able to distribute it. Additionally, EMTs and EMRs will be authorized to administer and distribute naloxone.