What is naloxone?
Naloxone is a life-saving drug that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Within 1 to 5 minutes, naloxone can reverse slowed breathing.
When administered properly, naloxone restores normal breathing and consciousness within 1 to 5 minutes of injection, preventing death or brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen.
However, if you suspect an overdose and have already administered naloxone, you should still call 911 for emergency assistance.
Who is authorized to administer naloxone?
Naloxone is an unscheduled drug in B.C. All health professionals have been authorized to administer emergency use naloxone.
In conjunction with the rescheduling of naloxone, amendments have been made to the Health Professions General Regulation adding an “exception for opioid overdose” which authorizes all health professionals to administer emergency use naloxone (outside of a hospital setting), even when administering a drug may not be within their scope of practice.
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 emergency use naloxone by intramuscular injection or intranasally.
Who provides the naloxone kit?
The BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) program was developed by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2012 to provide life-saving training and naloxone kits to people at risk of opioid overdose.
The BC Pharmacy Association (BCPhA) has been advocating for pharmacies to be added as distribution points for the free Take Home Naloxone (THN) program. In extensive consultation with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), BC Harm Reduction Strategies and Services and Toward the Heart, the BCPhA has been able to include community pharmacies in B.C. as distribution points for the THN program.
Which pharmacy offers the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits?
As of Dec 7, 2017, approximately 1,900 kits were distributed throughout B.C. to select pharmacies including London Drugs, Save-on-Foods and various independent pharmacies. UPDATE: As of April 15, 2018, 786 community pharmacies across British Columbia are registered to provide the kit.
Where can I find a pharmacy that offers the BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits?
Toward the Heart offers the THN Site Finder, a search tool that shows all publicly listed Take Home Naloxone, Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention sites in British Columbia.
Community pharmacies will be listed in the same section of the website and will be regularly updated.
Who is eligible to receive a free BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) kit?
According to the BC Centre 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
Pharmacists, at their own discretion, may provide additional kits to those who may be at high risk. Examples might include obtaining multiple kits for more than one person (such as a group home setting) or for individuals who live in rural and remote areas where first response times are lengthy or they may not be able to reach a pharmacy should an opioid overdose occur.
If a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist is not available, who administers the naloxone injection?
Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose or individuals likely to witness and respond to an overdose such as a family or friend of someone at risk, can administer the naloxone injection.
Toward the Heart.com provides an online, self-guided training app, online training resources and SAVE ME instructions which is included in the THN kit. All individuals who have the kit are encouraged to learn how to respond to an overdose.
I located a pharmacy that provides the THN kit. What is the process in getting one?
The pharmacist will discuss with you on whether you meet the high risk criteria. If so, the pharmacist will provide consultation on how to use the contents of the kit properly. While there is no requirement to provide patient details, the participating pharmacy site is required to complete a distribution record for the BC Centre for Disease Control.
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.
- https://www.bcpharmacy.ca/news/free-take-home-naloxone-kits-coming-pharmacy - For pharmacies wishing to participate in the program, contact Derek Desrosiers of the BC Pharmacy Association at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on registration, logistical questions and distribution details.