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Manitoba paramedics given power to dose agitated patients high on meth

Minister Cameron Friesen (centre) says provincial paramedics are getting a new tool in the fight against meth.
Minister Cameron Friesen (centre) says provincial paramedics are getting a new tool in the fight against meth. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Paramedics in Manitoba will soon follow a new drug protocol, which will allow them to administer an anti-psychotic medication to meth users, the first jurisdiction to do so.

The drug, Olanzapine, is given to agitated people high on meth and at risk of suffering psychosis. The oral tablets help to reduce, or prevent the intensity and length of symptoms.

“I think today what Manitobans saw was an immediate response to what we are learning out there in communities every day, from paramedics, from clinicians, from doctors and nurses,” Health Minister┬áCameron Friesen told reporters after the announcement.

READ MORE: Ongoing meth crisis has personal cost for all Winnipeggers

Manitoba is the first jurisdiction in Canada allow paramedics to administer Olanzapine to consenting patients, after consulting a supervisor. The practice is currently used in Australia and New Zealand, according to the province.

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The drug will improve safety for not only meth users, but paramedics dealing with the unpredictable behavior of patients high on meth, Friesen said. He also noted the province still has a lot of work ahead when it comes to battling the province’s meth crisis.

READ MORE: ‘Significant’ plans in the works to handle meth crisis: Province of Manitoba

“We haven’t done everything yet that we need to do,” he said. “We are fully engaged in this work.”

The new protocol will come into effect in early December.

Winnipeg’s Meth Crisis Part 1: What is Meth?
Winnipeg’s Meth Crisis Part 1: What is Meth?