Free Take Home Naloxone Kits Arrive in Newfoundland & Labrador

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As I have mentioned in the past, Atlantic Canada’s harm reduction landscape is very conservative compared to our country’s larger centres. For instance, there is relatively limited access to needle and syringe programs, low threshold methadone maintenance treatment, and take home naloxone.  In addition, there are no supervised injection sites or community detox centres, and point- of-care testing is very limited.

Last week, the region received good news in the launching of free take home naloxone kits in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Minister of Health and Community Services, the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Safe Works Access Program (SWAP) launched the initiative Wednesday in St. John’s. A total of 1,200 naloxone kits will be distributed through 52 sites across the province, where staff will also provide training to anyone who may need them, or to family members, friends and caregivers of people potentially at risk. The kits will be available at SWAP needle exchange satellite sites, youth and adult correctional facilities and Regional Health Authority Mental Health and Addictions Offices. The kits are designed to be easily carried, and contain two vials of naloxone, single use retractable syringes, a pair of latex gloves, alcohol swabs, a one-way rescue breathing barrier mask, and a step-by-step instruction brochure. They should be available at all sites by mid-December.

According to Health Minister John Haggie, there is a significant problem with prescription opioid use, including fentanyl and other designer opioids, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The take-home naloxone kits will provide a cost-effective way of dealing with a “public health emergency.” That is why the government has partnered with community groups to provide the life-saving opioid overdose antidote.  While commercially available naloxone kits are much more expensive, the 1,200 kits cost the province only $14 each. While no doubt cost effective, my opinion as blog writer, is that saving a life is priceless.

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