Naloxone is saving lives in Scotland, where they give out take home kits of the drug to addicts. Naloxone is a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdose, for example heroin or morphine overdose. The number of kits given out in 2012-2013 went up by 10%, and according to David Liddell, the director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, because of National Naloxone Programme there have been 365 opiate overdose reversals in the past 2 years.
“While not a solution to drug deaths in itself, this programme is an important intervention within a range of available treatment and support, which can help reduce harm and support people towards recovery. That is why we are committed to increasing the availability of take-home naloxone kits and undertaking robust monitoring and evaluation to enable us to measure the effectiveness of this programme in the longer term.”
It sounds like Scotland has the right idea and is using this valuable resource to save lives. But in Ontario, Canada, the process has not been so easy. In Ontario, due to “regulatory and other challenges,” around 1800 vials of this life saving drug are sitting in storage, with fewer than 500 vials of Naloxone having been distributed so far.
“They essentially have this important drug, paid for by taxpayers, sitting in a warehouse,” said Michael Parkinson, community engagement coordinator at the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, which has worked to establish a naloxone distribution strategy in the area. “The regulatory glitch was caught, but it has taken an enormous amount of time to fix it, get the naloxone out of the warehouse, onto a truck, and into the hands of people who are prepared to save lives.”
While they are working on getting these issues smoothed out, there is much frustration about this drug sitting in storage, not being used, while addicts are dying.
“It’s a shame that it’s taking so long,” said Lori Hasulo, a family doctor at Guelph Community Health Centre who is ready to prescribe naloxone now. “Ontario has been slow on this. It’s frustrating because there is such good evidence of how naloxone can help prevent death, and it’s not like it’s an expensive program, so I don’t understand the holdup.”
With more and more addicts in Ontario turning to Heroin and other drugs since OxyContin was outlawed in 2012, people are hoping to have easier access to Naloxone soon. The providence has spoken about working toward rolling out a new program to distribute Naloxone beginning this fall, but there isn’t much information about this available.