November 04, 2015

Saskatoon Pilot Project to Provide Take-Home Naloxone Kits

Take-Home Naloxone (THN) kits will soon be available at a pilot site in Saskatoon.  Saskatoon was chosen as the pilot site due to the number of opioid abusers and incidents involving opioid overdose.

Naloxone is an antidote to opioids such as fentanyl, morphine, heroin, methadone or oxycodone.  It is currently in use in Saskatchewan as an opioid overdose treatment practice in emergency departments and by paramedics in emergency situations.  When administered properly, Naloxone can restore breathing to an individual experiencing an overdose.

Take-Home Naloxone kits will be available to individuals at risk of an opioid overdose.  They will be provided education on overdose prevention, as well as recognition and response (including Naloxone administration).  Training will also be available to those who may witness an overdose.

“We want people to be aware of the health risk posed by drugs like fentanyl that are mixed and sold illegally, and ensure that resources are in place to potentially save lives,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.

“If you suspect someone has overdosed on fentanyl or any drug, the best thing you can do is call 9-1-1,” Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said.  “The take-home Naloxone kits do not replace the need for immediate treatment by trained medical professionals, but – in the event of an opioid overdose – may buy some critical time for first responders to reach the patient and begin treatment.”

“Take Home Naloxone Kits have the potential to save lives and engage people in care and treatment for their drug addiction,” Saskatoon Health Region addictions specialist Dr. Peter Butt said. 

Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, oxycodone or morphine.  It is a prescribed painkiller that is often added to illegal drugs without people knowing.  Overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl have recently been rising across Canada.

The Ministry of Health has worked with stakeholders to develop advisories for health care providers and the public to warn about the dangers related to fentanyl misuse.  New educational materials on fentanyl were recently made available to Saskatchewan health providers and the public at www.saskatchewan.ca/addictions.

Further details of the project will be announced prior to the launch.