Take-home Naloxone the new front in Sask.’s war against fentanyl
SASKATOON – On Tuesday, Global News broke the news that Saskatchewan would be making Naloxone kits available to the public in the coming weeks. Now, the province is releasing more details about the pilot project aimed at keeping people alive in the event of an overdose.
While the announcement comes too little too late for one local family, Marie Agioritis says the bittersweet news is better late than never.
Calling Global News from Florida on Wednesday, Agioritis says she left the country for a break after celebrating her son’s birthday without him was just too much to bear.
“My son Kelly, who passed in January, his 20th birthday was on Sunday. We had a gathering of friends and family on Sunday, it was really hard and as I say, it was the best birthday party he never had,” said Agioritis.
On Jan. 3, her son Kelly Best took a pill in their home and never woke up. A lethal fentanyl overdose that might have been prevented if the other person in the room had administered Naloxone.
The drug has the potential to eliminate opioid overdose deaths by temporarily reversing the effect of drugs like fentanyl. This year, paramedics with MD Ambulance have had to use the drug 78 times and up until this point it’s only been administered by trained staff in emergency situations.
In several weeks time however family and friends will be able to give the drug in the event of an overdose, buying some time for first responders to arrive on scene and begin treatment.
The province has decided to make Take Home Naloxone (THN) available to the public at a pilot site in Saskatoon.
“An individual who thinks they maybe at risk has to present and it has to be prescribed to them and then with their permission other people that they think may be able to help in that situation can be trained around its use,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer.
The kits will cost roughly $30 to $40 and each kit will contain the following:
- Two vials of Naloxone;
- Two syringes;
- Alcohol swabs;
- 1 step–by-step instruction pamphlet.
“It’s a good thing, don’t be afraid of them, learn how to use them,” said Agioritis
“Please take advantage of the offer, it will save someone’s life if you decide to use it.”
Even with the kits available, Agioritis anticipates fentanyl-related overdoses to continue if the conversation regarding drug use doesn’t change and the stigma surrounding overdoses doesn’t stop.
It’s estimated 80 per cent of users are not alone when they overdose but 80 per cent die alone after those around them flee in fear.
“If someone is having trouble breathing or having a seizure or something else due to another drug, they need help, you need to respond as a first responder if you have the training and you need to call 911,” said Shahab.
In the last three years, fentanyl has claimed at least 25 lives in the province and survivors believe that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
© 2015 Shaw Media