On 2014, the D.C. Department of Health has reported at least 116 deaths stemming from abuse of a prescription or illicit opioid drug. Public-health initiative HIPS has started to fight this trend by participating in a pilot program where they are allowed to provide naloxone to patients.
In the case of Ontario, the province has seen at least 300 deaths associated to opiate overdose. According to Ontario’s health minister, the government is performing the subsequent analyses to render naloxone more available.
Fighting opioid overdose
Ontario has become the third Canadian province to systematically provide naloxone to patients and to allow its purchase without the prescription, joining Canadian provinces Alberta and British Columbia. Both Alberta and Ontario have chosen to allow the antidote to be administered for free at pharmacies all over the province.
The state of D.C. seems to be following the actions of New York and several other American and Canadian health legislative actions by distributing naloxone through organized programs. According to collected data, most of the opioid overdose-related deaths could have been prevented if naloxone was present at the time of the affliction.
The deadliest opiate in Ontario is fentanyl. Ten out of every forty opiate overdose cases in Ontario have to do with fentanyl; the epidemic has gained such momentum that allowing the free distribution of naloxone was made effective immediately, at least one-and-a-half months before it was planned to take place.
Although experts believe that allowing the free distribution of naloxone will be of great help to fight the opiate crisis in the country, there is still much work to do, as the availability of the drug is just one factor among many that lead towards the death of opiate-abusing victims.
Doctors are asking for naloxone to be freely available all over both countries, not just in three or more provinces. They also point out that whenever a person is saved from an opiate overdose, they are still afflicted with the condition of addiction, which means that there is still a risk for overdosing in a different day.
According to Drug Policy Alliance spokesperson Kaitlyn Boecker, “Naloxone should be widely available and easy to obtain for anyone who uses opioids, or is in a position to witness an opioid-related overdose and save a life. Expanding naloxone access will spare countless District families from enduring the heart-wrenching loss of a loved one to an overdose.”