Opioid Framework Includes Free Naloxone, Public Education, Regular Reporting

The Nova Scotia government is taking further action to address opioid use and overdose.

Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey released the province’s first Opioid Use and Overdose Framework, today, July 19. It focuses on five key areas: understanding the issue, prevention, harm reduction, treatment and prescribing practices, and criminal justice and law enforcement.

The framework was developed by staff from both the departments of Health and Wellness and Justice, as well as experts in both fields.

“We needed to step in quickly, and we did. As a result, lives are being saved,” said Mr. Delorey. “This framework builds on our earlier efforts this year, and helps address this complex health and social issue from all angles.”

Naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, has saved at least 40 lives in Nova Scotia since January 2016. It has been administered by paramedics and police, and in emergency departments, successfully reversing these overdoses. As part of the framework, statistics on opioid deaths are now being posted online.

Const. Asif Khan of the Bridgewater Police knows the importance of carrying naloxone. He saved a life earlier this year when a man began to overdose while in the local police station.

“Police and paramedics are responding to more calls that involve opioids than ever before,” said Const. Khan. “Having naloxone on hand, and knowing how to use it, means we can act quickly to reverse an overdose and save a life.”

The Nova Scotia Health Authority and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia have worked closely to expand access to naloxone through 300 community pharmacies in the province. It is expected that kits will be available to the public, free of charge, by Sept. 1.

“Ease of access is one most important elements of this program,” said Rose Dipchand, chair of the board, Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia. “Since pharmacists are the most accessible health- care providers across this province, it just makes sense to provide these kits in pharmacies.”

As well, the Department of Justice has provided naloxone kits and training on how to use them, to 130 sheriffs, 86 corrections officers and more than 1,900 police officers across the province. At-risk inmates are also being provided naloxone kits.

To read the framework, and see a summary of actions to date, visit www.novascotia.ca/opioid.