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

Port Alberni’s bylaw department shifts from reactive to proactive

8.5 times more files being completed by bylaw officers

Port Alberni’s West Coast Rangers hold rendezvous

Three-day event featured historical re-enactment

Port Alberni Port Authority talks logistics for cruise ship visit

Some restrictions for pedestrians, boaters will be in place

Port Alberni’s ‘Army of Problem Solvers’ to the rescue

Facebook group gathers people who just want to help their neighbours

Hurricane Katrina inspires Alberni author’s new novel

Jacqueline Swann brings message of climate change to life with story of fictional journalist

B.C.’s fight to regulate bitumen through pipelines to go to Canada’s top court

BC Appeal Court judges found B.C. cannot restrict bitumen flow along Trans Mountain pipeline

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parent’s cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Most Read