N.B. government yet to establish plan on naloxone accessibility
It's a life-saving drug that's proven itself time and time again, but the New Brunswick government still doesn't have a plan on how to make naloxone more accessible in the province.
New Brunswick paramedics are working under different rules when it comes to naloxone. They're now allowed to give higher doses of the drug more frequently if they suspect an overdose.
“It used to be thought that the patient had to be definitely having an opioid overdose, we used to need proof. We no longer require that proof,” says Eric Beairsto, Ambulance New Brunswick manager of raining and quality assurance.
Naloxone isn’t harmful if the patient isn’t actually overdosing. Despite this, New Brunswick Health Minister Victor Boudreau still isn't sure who should have access to the drug.
“Nothing should be a free for all,” Boudreau says. “If we're to do this, it needs to be in a structured way. It can't just be something that's available to anybody that walks by a counter.”
Two people have died from opioid overdoses in New Brunswick so far this year. One was the result of fentanyl.
But the provincial government has yet to release a plan on how they intend to combat fentanyl and other opioids, should it become more prevalent in New Brunswick.
“We don't want to rush into it seeing as we're not in a situation yet where it is a crisis in New Brunswick,” says Boudreau.
Officials are looking to other provinces that have plans in place. Nova Scotia has been working on an opioid action plan since October. It is scheduled to be released in the near future.
“We're actually benefiting from some of things Nova Scotia has been doing because they're communicating their findings of their pilot study with us, so i think we're all learning from each other,” says Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick chief medical officer of health.
Nova Scotia has also been funding naloxone so it can be free for community groups and pharmacies. But that’s not yet the case in New Brunswick.
The Department of Health says they are working to make naloxone more accessible for vulnerable populations in the province.
They say they're hoping to come up with a plan in the coming months.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.