In an ongoing effort to prevent overdoses and save lives, the BC government has announced that take-home naloxone kits will be made available for free at pharmacies across the province.
Naloxone – sold under the brand-name Narcan, among others – is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in an overdose situation.
“Our most urgent priority is to keep people alive, so we’re dramatically expanding easy access to naloxone,” Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in the announcement today.
Bringing someone “back from the brink of death can hinge on people knowing how to use a naloxone kit and having access to one,” she added.
About 1,900 kits have been distributed to 220 pharmacies for the first time this month, including pharmacies in the London Drugs and Save-on-Foods chains, as well as a number of independent pharmacies.
“Take-home naloxone kits are a key harm-reduction measure…to combat the overdose crisis,” said Dr. Jane Buxton with BC Centre for Disease Control.
Buxton noted the kits have saved “countless lives.”
British Columbians can receive a free kit by visiting a participating pharmacy and talking to a pharmacist to determine their eligibility. To ensure privacy, identifying information about the person receiving the kit is not tracked.
The expansion into pharmacies is part of a new $322-million provincial investment over the next three years to address the overdose crisis.
About $2 million per year has been allocated to increase access to naloxone, including through the new partnership between the BC Pharmacy Association and the BC Centre for Disease Control.