September 13, 2015 6:26 pm

Alberta Health Services says fentanyl antidote kits have saved lives

Alberta Health Services has approved $300,000 to dispense naloxone, an antidote that reverses the effects of opioid overdoses.

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CALGARY — Alberta’s provincial health agency says “fentanyl antidote” kits have saved at least four lives since they hit the streets of Calgary earlier this summer.

Alberta Health Services says that in the last 10 weeks, about 100 naloxone kits were given out by the Safeworks program.

An awareness campaign, partnering with the Calgary Police Service, was launched just over a month ago to try to curb abuse of the drug.

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Fentanyl is an opioid used to treat severe pain. It is about 100 times stronger than morphine, heroin or oxycodone and is often passed off as the new form of OxyContin.

READ MORE: Fentanyl fact sheet – what it is and what it does

Naloxone works by competing with fentanyl for the same opiate receptors in the body, decreasing the potency of the drug.

In the first six months of 2015, 145 people in Alberta died from taking drugs in which fentanyl was detected.

READ MORE: ‘It is a huge issue’: 145 fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta so far in 2015

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Joss Reimer said last week that the authority also hopes to have a distribution program for naloxone in place by the end of the year.

Health Canada has also said it is reviewing the prescription-only status of naloxone on an urgent basis.

With files from CFFR.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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