Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe recommends opioid users have a supply of naloxone on hand. (Black Press Media files)

Naloxone prevented 26% of possible overdose deaths in B.C.: study

Researchers say had naloxone kits been distributed faster, more people’s lives could have been saved

As B.C. stands at the forefront of the opioid crisis across Canada, a new study suggests wide distribution of naloxone has helped to significantly curb the number of overdose deaths.

The study, published in The Lancet Public Health, looked at the BC Centre for Disease Control’s use of a new mathematical model to assess the effectiveness of various public health initiatives brought in by government since the crisis hit.

A total of 869 people died over an illicit drug overdose between January and October 2016, the study said. Another 226 lives were saved with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone during that time.

“Clearly, fast and wide distribution of naloxone is key,” BCCDC medical director Dr. Mark Gilbert said Wednesday.

“We hope other jurisdictions in Canada and the world will take note and use our experience to make their own harm reduction programs as effective as possible.”

WATCH: Demonstrators march in Vancouver for national day of action to end overdoses

One overdose death was prevented for every 10 take-home naloxone kits that were used, the study found. (Sometimes, as many as three doses of naloxone are needed to be effective.)

Earlier adoption and distribution of the kits appear to have had a significant impact as well.

Take-home naloxone kits were made available in B.C. in 2012, and weren’t free until last December. By then, the number of people killed by a drug overdose had surpassed the number of people killed in other major causes such as car crashes.

Now, there are more than 1,500 active distribution sites in B.C., including hospitals, correctional facilities, First Nations and pharmacies.

In February, the province said more than 17,000 overdoses have been reversed since 2012, with more than 75,000 kits being distributed.

READ MORE: Free naloxone kits now available at pharmacies across B.C.

READ MORE: B.C. launches new drug-checking program, expands fentanyl testing

Fentanyl remains the top illicit drug to cause death in B.C. The powerful opioid is found in 71 per cent of the drugs found in people who died of an overdose, according to the coroner’s service, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has repeatedly said not to use drugs alone, and health authorities have launched public awareness campaigns with ads on bus shelters, in bars and restaurants.

Seven people die every two days in B.C., according to the latest government statistics. Last year was the worst in B.C.’s recorded history, with the crisis claiming 1,446 lives. That number is expected to surpass 4,000 lives, as Health Canada continues to sort data.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Proudly Surrey modifies child-care policy

Slate wants to use school board property for child-care spaces

Surrey school board wants to expand French Immersion program

District had to close program at Cougar Creek Elementary due to low enrolment

VIDEO: Scarecrow festival kicks off in Port Kells

Fourth-annual event will be on until Halloween

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants earn a 3-1 victory over Everett in season-opener in Langley

Langley’s major junior hockey team opened the season at home with a victory over the Silvertips.

VIDEO: North Delta Studio Stomp back for sixth year

The annual art event has local artists opening their studios to the public this weekend

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Most Read