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Province expands access to naloxone, opioid treatment

Free naloxone kits are now available at pharmacies.

Free naloxone kits are now available at pharmacies.

Albertans can now get free take-home naloxone kits from pharmacies without a prescription.
The province is also providing $3-million to Alberta Health Services to support the Opioid Dependency Treatment Plan Strategy, a three-year project that will expand counselling services and access to suboxone and methadone treatment in several communities where the need is greatest.
By the end of the first year, an additional 240 Albertans are expected to be receiving opioid replacement treatment; an increase of 20 per cent from the number being treated at existing clinics.
“Too many lives have been cut short by fentanyl, and too many families have lost loved ones,” Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne said. “We know naloxone saves lives, so our strategy from the outset has been to make it more accessible.”
Naloxone kits can be used to temporarily reverse overdoses of fentanyl or other opioids, so people have time to seek emergency help.
The kits are free of charge and are available to any Albertan who is at risk of overdosing on fentanyl or other opioids.
“Our hope is that removing the prescription requirement will encourage more people to access these potentially life-saving kits,” Payne said. “It is also our intention that by providing greater access to treatment and counselling, this further supports people struggling with opioid addiction and their families.”
The Alberta College of Pharmacists’ Standards of Practice allow Schedule 2 drugs to be dispensed or sold to patients’ agents.
As a result of this change, friends and family members can obtain naloxone kits for loved ones at risk.
People are encouraged to call ahead to their local pharmacies to ensure kits are available.
“Pharmacists play an integral role in the delivery of care to Albertans,” Alberta College of Pharmacists president Rick Hackman said. “These regulatory changes enhance community-based access to naloxone — a fundamental move that will impact those individuals and families who need help, and mitigate the escalation of deaths that have been observed in our province.”
Expanding access to naloxone is part of Alberta’s overall approach to curbing the harms caused by illicit fentanyl and other opioids.
The province also continues to focus on:

  • Raising public awareness about the dangers of fentanyl.
  • Improving access to treatment.
  • Reducing the supply and trafficking of fentanyl.

Since December 2015, Alberta has tripled its supply of naloxone kits, from 3,000 to 9,000.
Alberta has more than 700 naloxone distribution sites, including community pharmacies, walk-in clinics, and harm reduction agencies.
Together, they have provided more than 2,000 naloxone kits to Albertans since the summer of 2015.

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