Province expands entry to free naloxone kits


Life-saving medicine that may reverse the results of opioid overdoses has quietly been made extra out there in Manitoba.

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The provincial well being division has expanded entry to free, take-home naloxone kits. Whereas the kits have been beforehand out there to particular person opioid customers, now they’re free for customers’ household and pals, as properly.

The coverage change places Manitoba according to different provinces, together with Saskatchewan and British Columbia, that already distribute the kits to individuals who could witness an overdose.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical director of inhabitants and public well being with the Winnipeg Regional Well being Authority, stated giving non-prescription naloxone to drug customers themselves was initially seen as essentially the most environment friendly method to make the overdose antidote out there to those that are most in danger.

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“Inclusion of household and pals is simply meant to be one further step and make it slightly bit simpler to make it possible for there’s extra naloxone locally,” Reimer stated Thursday.

“I believe the dedication to hurt discount is what prompted the change. So we’re all the time information and all the time methods to enhance our hurt discount applications, and it is a good subsequent step that was per what plenty of different provinces have accomplished as properly.”

Opioid customers can’t self-administer the naloxone throughout an overdose, so the duty would possible fall to household or pals regardless. However Manitoba’s take-home naloxone program, which has been operating since 2017, beforehand solely allowed registered distribution websites — reminiscent of Avenue Connections, sure pharmacies and addictions therapy services — to provide out the kits to customers themselves.

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Non-drug customers who wished the kits may purchase them for roughly $50 every.

The associated fee was a barrier for some folks, as was the requirement for people to reveal their drug use with a purpose to get a free package, stated Bryce Koch, harm-reduction nurse with Undertaking Secure Viewers, a company that distributes naloxone and trains folks on find out how to use it.

“That may be fairly stigmatizing — not everybody desires their drug historical past recorded and being advised to the province. They need to have the ability to have entry to this life-saving medicine with out having to reveal one thing that would doubtlessly carry extra stigma in direction of them,” Koch stated.

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Greater than three,000 free naloxone kits have been given out since January 2019 at about 100 registered distribution websites provincewide, in accordance with the Division of Well being, Seniors and Lively Residing. The province didn’t publicly announce the coverage change, which it says got here into impact earlier this fall.

Arlene Final-Kolb, co-founder of Overdose Consciousness Manitoba, has been lobbying for the change for about 4 years. She stated she’s heard from households who couldn’t entry the kits after they wanted them most, and others who paid for their very own kits and saved their youngsters’s lives throughout drug overdoses. She’d now prefer to see native hospitals register as naloxone distribution places.

“We’re very, very, very glad for what’s taking place, however as an advocate I do need to take it another step additional and simply say we’ve to ensure that is given out at our emergency (departments),” Final-Kolb stated.

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Reimer stated she would additionally prefer to see naloxone distribution “expanded to all emergency rooms and as many different websites as doable.”

Individuals can get naloxone kits solely after they’re skilled find out how to use them. The coaching takes about 20 minutes and might solely be supplied in Manitoba by registered medical professionals, together with medical doctors, nurses, paramedics and pharmacists. That requirement isn’t in place in all provinces and restricts entry to naloxone, Koch stated.

“Individuals who use substances or folks concerned in peer organizations have the talents to have the ability to prepare folks in naloxone, and they need to be allowed to distribute these kits,” he stated.

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katie.could@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Katie May

Katie Could
Justice reporter

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Katie Could reviews on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.

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