New Brunswick introduces naloxone kit program to battle opioid-related deaths
The New Brunswick government announced that $150,000 will be used to purchase 25,000 naloxone kits after at least 17 opioid deaths occurred in the province this year.
“This problem was 20 years or so in the making so it’s going to be a long term solution that will have to be implemented over many years,” says Dr. Jennifer Russell, acting chief medical officer of health.
Naloxone temporarily reverses overdoses caused by opioid drugs such as fentanyl or heroin and the kits will include: naloxone, single-use syringes, a pair of latex gloves, alcohol swabs, a one-way rescue breathing barrier mask and step-by-step instructions.
New Brunswick police have confirmed that a nasal form of naloxone was used on a woman showing symptoms of a drug overdose last weekend.
Officers in Bathurst say the opioid drug antidote was administrated to the woman and she was revived. Police say they’ve used the spray twice since receiving training in April.
Dr. Dharm Singh, president of the New Brunswick medical society president, says officials want to involve electronic health records in their mission to improve the monitoring of opioid prescriptions.
“We should also focus on non-opioid methods of chronic pain management, especially chronic pain, our members and in the public,” says Singh. “We should highlight these important methods and a lot of these pains can be managed by that. Opioids should not be the first option.”
Officials in the province have been looking to Alberta and British Columbia in particular to determine what can be done in the short-term to improve conditions; although, there has been compounded illicit fentanyl coming from china found in western Canada, which is more powerful than prescribed fentanyl.
“Here in New Brunswick we're not seeing that so we're seeing people overdosing on either prescribed opioids or opioids that have been diverted onto the black market, or they've gotten them from friends, relatives, what have you,” says Russell.
In September, pharmacies in Nova Scotia started stocking free naloxone kits as part of the province's strategy to battle nearly 60 opioid overdose deaths in the province in 2017.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.