Nova Scotia to offer free naloxone kits to the public as part of opioid response

Province wants make it accessible to everyone

HALIFAX — Nova Scotians will have wide-spread access to the antidote for opioid overdoses as part of the provincial plan to address the drug problem that continues to grow across the country.

Free naloxone kits will be available at over 300 community pharmacies beginning Sept. 1, provincial Health Minister Randy Delorey said Wednesday.

“By putting naloxone in pharmacies, we want to make it accessible to everyone in a convenient and trusted location — one that doesn’t carry a stigma if you are to go in to visit,” said Delorey.

The move to expand the $564,000 antidote program originally announced in March, was presented as part of a new plan released in Halifax to address opioid use and overdoses.

The framework focuses on five key issues, including understanding the issue, prevention, harm reduction, treatment, prescribing practices and law enforcement.

“We may not be seeing the opioid use and overdose at the same levels here in Nova Scotia as we are seeing in other parts of Canada, but we do know the issue is growing and it is moving east,” said Delorey. “We are committed to doing what we can to address this serious issue.”

According to provincial figures, there were 54 acute opioid overdose deaths in the province in 2016, with four involving illicit fentanyl and three others involving another powerful synthetic opioid, U-47700. Another 24 confirmed deaths and five probable deaths from opioid toxicity have been recorded so far this year.

Canada’s chief public health officer has said that if current abuse trends continue, the national death toll could top 3,000 this year.

Nova Scotia officials said deaths linked to opioid overdoses will be posted online as part of a wider public education effort.

There are also plans to share more specific information around drug seizures between police forces and other first responders, although it’s unknown at this point whether any of that information will be made public.

“What we are looking for is whether there is a particular hotspot in Nova Scotia where a certain type of drug, say fentanyl or carfentanil, may be showing up,” said Roger Merrick, the province’s director of public safety.

“By identifying these particular hotspots, we will be able to notify our stakeholders in health of the potential for harm that may come in particular geographic areas.”

Merrick said the province’s corrections system is also exploring the possibility of purchasing body scanners like those found in airports to detect drugs in jail settings, although he later noted that at $200,000 a piece for the machines the cost might be found to be prohibitive.

Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, said two other significant measures — safe injection sites and prescription standards for addictive painkillers — were still being studied.

Strang said the use of safe injection sites are more complex, despite the fact many have already been implemented in other Canadian jurisdictions.

“We are not jumping to the conclusion that is what is necessary or appropriate here in Nova Scotia,” he said. “We are doing the work to explore what, under the broad umbrella of safer consumption, is actually necessary.”

The expansion of the naloxone program is part of an overall $1.1-million funding initiative announced in March that also distributed kits to police, provincial jails and harm reduction clinics in Sydney, Truro and Halifax.

As well, funding support was provided to community-based organizations that distribute needles and information to addicts.

Just Posted

Castor triple-murder trial resumes on Monday

Trial was delayed two weeks for two men accused of killing Castor-area family

UPDATED: Look no further than Westerner Park for renovation ideas

Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show runs Friday to Sunday

Central Alberta real estate market reflects Alberta’s slow recovery

Real estate markets will bounce back but incoming mortgage changes don’t help, say realtor groups

Lorinda Stewart recounts bargaining for her daughter’s life in new memoir

Amanda Lindhout’s mom will speak in Red Deer on Nov. 4

Red Deer photographer captures rare spirit bears

As part of a Canada 150 project he toured some parts of Canada

Business of the Year Awards celebrate local achievement

Olymel, The Bra Lounge, 360 Fitness and Postma Electrical Services Ltd. are the winners this year

New northbound Hwy 2 lanes at Gaetz Avenue to open this Sunday

Drivers heading north through Red Deer on Hwy 2 will have a… Continue reading

Sockey Night at Saturday’s Rebels game

United Way Central Alberta is determined to provide warm feet for all… Continue reading

Canadian planet hunter seeking alien life

‘The shifting line of what is crazy’ says Toronto-born astrophysicist

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

4 B.C. prisons install body scanners to combat drug smuggling

The scanners are aimed to combat the smuggling of contraband including weapons and drugs

Owner of medical marijuana dispensaries challenges constitutionality of law

The law under which the owner of two medical marijuana dispensaries was… Continue reading

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

Watch: Gravel truck turns into wrong off-ramp at Highway 2 Ponoka

The new Highway 2 and Highway 53 intersection at Ponoka caused some confusion for one driver

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month