Naloxone has been lauded by the health care community as a life saver, especially during the recent fentanyl epidemic that has swept over B.C. But, a disturbing new trend has many disappointed.
Paramedics now say addicts are frequently using the needles from the naloxone kits distributed across the Downtown Eastside to inject street drugs.
“Syringes are being used to inject drugs, and when they do that, they render the kit useless in the sense that they don’t have a needle to inject the Narcan that will save their life,” says Dave Leary, a paramedic.
“I think it’s horrific. I think that it’s a very unfortunate turn of circumstances.”
Over 18,703 naloxone kits have been handed out at the cost of over $1 million to taxpayers. The drug is a powerful antidote to opioid overdoses and can reverse the deadly drugs’ effect within minutes.
“If the government thinks that naloxone kits themselves are going to stop this crisis, clearly they’re not,” NDP public safety critic, Mike Farnworth, said.
The B.C. Ministry of Health says it has not heard about a misuse of naloxone kits.
“This is not a concern that has been raised to the Joint Task Force… the program has saved hundreds of lives,” the Ministry said in a statement.
More than 755 people have died from illicit drugs in B.C. this year and there have been over 6,000 recorded overdoses in Vancouver alone.
Paramedics now say addicts are mixing naloxone with deadly street drugs, hoping the cocktail won’t kill them.
They say it’s creating a false sense of security.
“We as a professional body don’t feel it’s the magic bullet. People are still dying and in greater numbers than has ever been seen before,” Leary added.
With files from Rumina Daya