Alex Dar Santos speaking to the media.

Life-saving Naloxone kits available for free in B.C. community pharmacies

Updated on January 4, 2018 (Originally posted on December 20, 2017)

As drug overdose deaths continue to rise, B.C.’s community pharmacies are taking a stand in being part of the solution in the province’s opioid crisis. A staggering 1,200 deaths were attributed to drug overdoses this year, according to a November B.C. Coroners Service report, up from 607 at this time in 2016. And the numbers continue to rise.

Starting this month, community pharmacies across the province have begun to stock free naloxone kits to those in need.

In extensive consultation with the BC Centre for Disease Control, the B.C. Pharmacy Association (BCPhA) had been advocating for community pharmacies to be added as distribution points for the Take Home Naloxone (THN) Kit across B.C., making the life-saving kit available to high risk individuals at the community pharmacy level. The program was developed by the BC Center for Disease Control in 2012 to provide training and naloxone kits to people at risk of opioid overdose.

According to the BC Center for Disease Control, the kits would be provided free of charge to:

  • Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose
  • Individuals likely to witness and respond to an overdose such as a family or friend of someone at risk

All health professionals have been authorized to administer emergency use naloxone, even when administering a drug that may not be within their scope of practice, according to the Health Professions General Regulation. This means if a pharmacist or pharmacy technician suspects a person is suffering from an opioid overdose, they may assess and treat the person and administer naloxone by intramuscular injection or intranasally. In this case, the THN Kit are provided by intramuscular injection. All individuals who inquire and meet high risk criteria, are provided consultation on how to use the contents of the kit properly.

Starting Dec. 7, 2017, approximately 1,900 kits were distributed throughout B.C. at London Drugs, Save-on-Foods, UniPharm and various independent pharmacies. More community pharmacies will continue to register to distribute naloxone kits to those at high risk. Pharmacists are on the frontline to reach those in need. It’s the right thing to do.

For patients and their families:

To find a pharmacy that provides the free Take Home Naloxone kit near you, visit http://www.towardtheheart.com/site-finder

For pharmacies:

Pharmacies wishing to participate in the program should contact Derek Desrosiers with the BC Pharmacy Association for information on registration, logistical questions and distribution details. 

For more information and resources, go to:

  • www.bcpharmacists.org/naloxone
    The BC College of Pharmacists website provides a list of resources relating to naloxone, including a naloxone FAQ and optional patient hand-outs.
  • www.towardtheheart.com
    The BC Take Home Naloxone program provides extensive resources for sites participating in the THN program, for health professionals and for individuals at risk.