Opioid overdose antidote may be available prescription-free by spring

Naloxone, a medication that aids in reversing the symptoms of an opioid overdose, could be available without a prescription this spring.

In an attempt to combat a rising number of opioid overdoses, Health Canada is proposing amendments to its prescription drug list to allow non-prescription emergency use of the drug outside of hospital settings.

Health Canada is also considering changing product labelling and training for administering the drug, are also being considered. The federal agency says that it’s already launched a public consultation on the department’s proposals.

READ MORE: Fentanyl overdose injection kits to be made available in Saskatchewan

Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, reverses the effect of an opioid overdose and is widely used by paramedics and emergency room staff to save lives. It’s administered via injection.

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“Health Canada’s goal in considering whether to change the prescription status of any drug is to determine whether it can be used safely outside the direct supervision of a health-care practitioner,” the agency said in a statement listing its proposals.

The department says it worked closely with provinces and territories in making its proposed amendments. It also combed over data on naloxone use, adverse reactions to the drug and the need for follow up treatment.

READ MORE: Opioids killing more Ontarians than ever, coroner’s numbers show

Public consultations take place whenever a change is proposed for any prescription drug. Canadians have until March 19 to provide their comments.

If the change in the drug’s status is supported by evidence, the amendments will be finalized, Health Canada says. The agency says it will waive the usual six-month implementation period that follows.

Last November, Global News learned that Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health was collaborating with the Saskatoon Health Region to launch a pilot project that would dole out Take Home Naloxone kits to residents.

READ MORE: Opioid deaths up despite Ontario’s one-drug crackdown

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.

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

The move came in the wake of five deaths linked to fentanyl in 2015 in Saskatchewan.

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