What you need to know about naloxone

published on May 29, 2017 by Pamela Fayerman in Vancouver Sun

If drug users overdose on substances containing fentanyl or other opioids like heroin, methadone and morphine, naloxone can reverse overdose effects.

The medication does not work for other drugs like speed, PCP and ketamine.

Naloxone can be obtained in B.C. without a prescription. Schools that have students who may be at high risk for overdosing have been encouraged by public health experts to stock naloxone.

There are three ways to obtain naloxone:

1. From community pharmacies; anyone can purchase naloxone (costs about $50) and receive training on how to use it at the pharmacy.

Kenneth Tupper, director of implementation and partnerships at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use, said it’s time Canada copied harm reduction practices in some European countries where drug users are able to submit street drugs to labs to get quick analyses done to find out if they’re tainted and deadly.

“The turnaround time for results is pretty quick and it provides a snapshot of what’s in the pills or powder. In countries like Spain and the Netherlands, there are mobile labs or public health clinics doing this testing so people can make informed decisions.”


Currently, Health Canada drug analysis labs only accept samples submitted by police, for forensic matters. But Tupper argues the same labs should be allowed to do testing — at public expense — for consumers.

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