November 3, 2015 8:59 pm
Updated: November 4, 2015 10:15 am

Fentanyl overdose injection kits to be made available in Saskatchewan

WATCH ABOVE: Global News has learned the province will unveil plans this week to run a pilot project designed to curb the number of fentanyl-related overdoses. Meaghan Craig has the exclusive report.

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SASKATOON – It’s been used for decades to prevent deaths. Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, reverses the effect of an overdose and is widely used by paramedics and emergency room staff to save lives. It’s also a drug that family members or friends will soon be able to administer in a war waged against fentanyl deaths in the province.

In an email to Global News, the province’s Ministry of Health has confirmed it’s in discussions with the Saskatoon Health Region (SHR) in regards to launching a pilot site to provide Take Home Naloxone kits.

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“While details are still being confirmed, these kits are expected to be available in the coming weeks. (We chose Saskatoon because of the number of opioid abusers and critical incidents involving opioid overdose.)”

READ MORE: Alberta Health Services says fentanyl antidote kits have saved lives

The move will help save those from dying of drug overdoses since the drug, up until this point, has been only administered in emergency situations by health care professionals.

“From our perspective any assistance we can get from the region, from the government, the Ministry of Health, we’ll fully support it,” said Troy Davies with MD Ambulance.

“It’s great to hear if that’s what’s coming down the pipeline.”

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo.

All this in the wake five deaths linked to fentanyl this year in Saskatchewan. Ten deaths in 2014 and 10 deaths in 2013, add that to the number of deaths across the country and street fentanyl is being called a national disaster.

“Fentanyl is highly potent and the illicit fentanyl that’s on the street is of a strength that nobody really knows how to predict, or to titrate or to use,” said Dr. Peter Butt, a consultant with SHR in mental health and addiction services.

This past week, MD Ambulance paramedics responded to three suspected fentanyl-related overdoses in Saskatoon in a matter of 18 hours. It’s a reality that is becoming all too common for emergency responders in Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: Alarm sounded again after fentanyl overdoses in Saskatoon

“This isn’t something that we’re seeing once a month or every six weeks we have these types of calls, we’re seeing them every week,” remarked Davies.

According to Davies, all three patients from the weekend are in stable condition.

“These are critical patients that will die if bystanders don’t see them, call 911 and if they don’t have proper medications administered to them aggressively by paramedics.”

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Aggressive treatment that includes intravenously administering Narcan, the so-called “EpiPen for addicts.”

“If it’s given right away, it’s something that will wake a patient up almost immediately,” said Davies.

Although data has not been narrowed down by MD Ambulance for just fentanyl-related overdoses, Davies says for a drug that was rarely used five years ago Narcan is now used by paramedics once a week if not twice a week.

“We’re seeing young people, old people, all types of races, different neighbourhoods, all across the city.”

Global News reached out to the SHR regarding the Take Home Naloxone kits but a comment was declined until details are formalized.

An announcement by the ministry is expected this week.

The first take-home kits in the country were introduced in Edmonton in 2005.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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