Naloxone, the drug which can reverse an opioid overdose, will now be available without prescription in emergencies, Health Canada has announced.
The change will make it easier for first responders in Vancouver to administer naloxone, or Narcan, to help save anyone who has overdosed on opioids like heroin or fentanyl.
Health Canada said it consulted 130 groups on the proposal to remove the need for a prescription in emergencies outside a hospital – and all of them supported the change.
Advocates welcomed the change to naloxone’s status on Twitter:
— sarah blyth (@sarahblyth) March 23, 2016
— CPhA/APhC (@CPhAAPhC) March 22, 2016
— Canadian Drug Policy (@CANdrugpolicy) March 22, 2016
Vancouver and Surrey firefighters began carrying naloxone in January, in response to the rising number of overdose deaths in B.C.
In 2015 alone, there were 465 drug overdose deaths, and fentanyl was detected in 30% of them.