Drugs

Ontario Becomes Third Canadian Province to Make Opiate Overdose Antidote Available Without Prescription

Naloxone will now be available free of charge over the counter in Ontario.
May 18, 2016, 8:54pm

An outreach worker in Ontario opens a naloxone kit. Photo by the author

Following behind British Columbia and Alberta, Ontario has become the latest province to make the opiate overdose antidote naloxone available without a prescription.

Some of that additional work includes prompt access to effective treatment for opiate addiction. "The problem is waitlists can stretch into months—similar to cardiac arrest patients, treatment should be available on demand when someone makes that decision," he said.

READ MORE: Fentanyl Is Now Killing More Ontarians Than Any Other Opiate

Dr. Hakique Virani, a specialist in public health, preventative medicine, and addiction medicine at the University of Alberta, told VICE, "There's no question that [naloxone] should be available—as in BC, Alberta, and Ontario—across the country." However, he said, "When you revive someone from an opiate overdose, if they were using opiates because they were addicted, they're still addicted when they're saved with naloxone—they're very likely to overdose again if the underlying addiction disorder isn't treated... We need to be in a position to offer [effective treatment]."

Last year in Alberta, close to 300 people died due to fentanyl—within the province, much of the drug available on the streets is a bootleg version believed to derive from China that is commonly pressed into blue-green pills meant to look like OxyContin.

Parkinson referenced bootleg fentanyl that has cropped up in at least eight communities across Ontario, including confirmed presence of the synthetic opiate in heroin, cocaine, and meth within the province.

"My advice is to assume the drugs you are taking could contain bootleg fentanyl," he said.

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