Bring Naloxone Kits to Public Spaces
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Canada is experiencing a serious and growing opioid crisis. There were 2,861 apparent opioid-related deaths in Canada in just 2016 alone (Government of Canada, 2018). Unless the opioid crisis is effectively tackled, we will continue to lose our loved ones.
Opioids are a class of drugs that work on the nervous system to relieve pain and also cause a state of euphoria. In an overdose situation, breathing is compromised leading to possible death. The chances of surviving are solely dependent on oxygen and breathing (Government of Canada, 2018).
Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, offers another chance of survival. It counteracts the respiratory depression of opioids. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can easily be administered by an ordinary citizen, if trained appropriately, while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive to the scene (Government of Canada, 2018).
Naloxone kits currently have a non-prescription status in Canada and are distributed in pharmacies, community based-organizations and correctional facilities. They are given to: current or past opioid users, family and friends of individuals at risk, clients of needle syringe programs, or newly released individuals from a correctional facility (Government of Canada, 2018).
Unfortunately, despite having a non-prescription status, some pharmacies do not carry free naloxone kits and Ontario citizens must present their health card in order to receive a kit, which puts vulnerable populations (e.g. new immigrants) at a disadvantage (Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2017). There are also eligibility requirements to receive the kit. Additionally, with the stigma associated with using opioids, the lack of anonymity when obtaining the kits presents another barrier to accessing the kits (Cressman et al., 2017). All of these factors lead to the reduced accessibility of naloxone kits and therefore, an inadequate solution to treat the opioid crisis effectively.
This petition is calling for the Ontario government to mandate the distribution of free naloxone kits in public spaces, including schools, parks, and clubs, in order to make them readily accessible to the public in an event of an opioid overdose. Making them readily accessible in public spaces allows for prompt response to an emergency situation that can be life-changing. It also eliminates the eligibility requirements and fear of being labelled as an opioid user that comes with obtaining the naloxone kits in pharmacies and community organizations.
Canadian Pharmacists Association. (2017). Environmental Scan: Access to naloxone across Canada. Retrieved from https://www.pharmacists.ca/cpha-ca/assets/File/cpha-on-the-issues/Environmental%20Scan%20-%20Access%20to%20Naloxone%20Across%20Canada_Final.pdf
Cressman, A., Mazereeuw, G., Guan, Q., Jia, W., Gomes, T. and Juurlink, D. (2017). Availability of naloxone in Canadian pharmacies:a population-based survey. CMAJ Open, 5(4), pp.E779-E784.
Government of Canada. (2018). Opioids. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-abuse/prescription-drug-abuse/opioids.htm
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