OTCs in Action Ep 55: Overdoses spur fast-track naloxone switch


Peter McKnight, of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, wrote about the rising rates of fentanyl overdoses in the 13 August 2015 Toronto Globe & Mail, and observed:

So, 45 years after US president Richard Nixon first declared what has become a worldwide war on drugs, opiates remain as easy as ever obtain.

But what if opiates aren’t your drug of choice? What if you’re looking instead for a drug that can reverse the deadly effects of opiates? Well – and here’s more irony – that drug is a lot harder to get. It’s called naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of opioids in the brain, thereby reversing an overdose and preventing the loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing that often follow. A non-addictive, non-intoxicating, low-risk drug, naloxone has been used in Canadian emergency rooms for more than 40 years.

The trouble, of course, is that most people don’t shoot up in hospitals. People commonly use drugs – and overdose – at home, in a washroom or in an alleyway. And if we are to reduce the risk of death or brain damage, naloxone must be available wherever and whenever an overdose occurs.”

This week OTCs are in Action in Canada, where Health Canada announced its intention to make naloxone available for emergency use for opioid overdose without a prescription so that families can have emergency treatment kits at home and readily available, according to Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections. The agency is reviewing safety and efficacy data during a consultation period ending on 19th March, after which it intends to waive the usual six-month implementation period that follows such decisions so that the change in status can occur as quickly as possible.

To review a prior OTCs in Action on naloxone availability, click here:


To learn more about Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections, click here:


To read Mr. McKnight’s original editorial, click here:


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