October 13, 2016 9:52 am

Saint John looks to bring fentanyl antidote naloxone to community

WATCH ABOVE: Fentanyl is a powerful drug connected to many overdose deaths in B.C. As Global's Andrew Cromwell reports, a move is afoot to meet the growing challenge in New Brunswick head on.


Saint John is trying to get ahead of the curve when it comes to preventing drug overdose deaths, especially from fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a very powerful drug has been connected to many overdose deaths in British Columbia, as well as other parts of Canada, and concern is spreading.

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AIDS Saint John is working to get the fentanyl antidote drug naloxone out into the Saint John community. Diane Kerns, the organization’s needle exchange coordinator, along with two nursing students are behind a move to bring the antidote in before overdose numbers start to rise.

READ MORE: Fentanyl in Canada will get worse before it gets better: RCMP report

Their goals will be set in motion in early November, when a one-day naloxone training program is planned for community partners from across the city.

The province-wide prescription drug monitoring program is expected to roll out by the end of the year, however that could actually complicate matters.

“We have a reduction in opiates that are available to people,” said AIDS Saint John Executive Director Julie Dingwell. “We know that [an increase in] heroin and fentanyl will be the next thing that happens.”

To stay ahead of a potential crisis, the plan is to raise money for as many naloxone kits as possible. The kits cost $35 each, and are not yet part of the New Brunswick Drug Plans Formulary.

READ MORE: Officials say prescription monitoring program not a cure for drug abuse problem

“We want those community agencies to have it, and some peer helpers,” Kerns said. “So some key clients that we have connections with that, we would like to get it into their hands so we know it’s in the community.”

The long-term goal is to have widespread access to naloxone. Kerns says in the short term, they hope to have it in the hands of as many as two dozen clients by Christmas.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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