Quebec pharmacists to carry fentanyl antidote naloxone

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Pharmacists in Quebec will soon be able to distribute fentanyl antidote, Nalaxone. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, the drug has been credited with saving the lives of people who could have otherwise overdosed – Nov 9, 2017

Starting Friday, all of Quebec’s 1,900 pharmacies will be stocked with naloxone — a drug that can reverse a fentanyl overdose.

READ MORE: Fentanyl contributed to hundreds of deaths in Canada so far this year

The Parti Quebecois opposition says it’s a good step, but a far cry from the strategy they’ve been calling for to combat the opioid epidemic.

“We were waiting for a full plan of action, and we just have one action,” said Hochelaga-Maisonneuve MNA, Carole Poirier.

Poirier said she has witnessed a man in her riding overdose on fentanyl, a drug that is 40 times stronger than heroin. She’s concerned about the number of deaths reported in just the last three months:

“There was a crisis in Montreal. As we know now there were 60 people,” she said.

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READ MORE: Puppy’s opioid overdose during walk a warning to other dog owners

She said community groups could do more with additional money. According to the MNA, the federal government has already given Quebec $3 million to address opioid addiction and overdoses.

“That money should go directly on the street,” she said.

However, it’s likely that the money will go to research instead. According to an internal health ministry email obtained by Global News, the federal money was given to Quebec through the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) which, “does not aim to implement direct services to the population, but rather to promote dialogue between partners in the health and social services network.”

READ MORE: ‘I carry an overdose prevention kit’: Toronto man makes buttons for people who carry naloxone kits

The government said they’ve been taking action in other ways:

“We already invested $12 million for three (safe) injection sites,” said Lucie Charlebois, public health and healthy living minister.

READ MORE: B.C. now has a roadmap for how to prescribe drugs like heroin, for opioid addiction

It will cost Quebec about $200,000 annually to offer naloxone to anyone requesting it at a drug store for free and no prescription required.

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“It’s about saving lives. It’s not about regulations,” said health minister, Gaetan Barrette.

Some police officers and more than 90 per cent of paramedics are now also carrying naloxone.

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