Naloxone nasal spray gets temporary Health Canada approval
Federal health minister has fast-tracked approval to allow imports from the U.S.
Canada's Health Minister Jane Philpott has signed an interim order to immediately allow the nasal spray version of naloxone to be imported from the U.S. into Canada.
Until now the drug, which reverses the effects of opiate overdoses, has only been available in injectable form in Canada.
The move comes about four months after Health Canada de-listed the drug, making it available without a prescription, once individual provinces sign off.
Aiyanas Ormond, a community organizer with VANDU — a group representing drug users in the Downtown Eastside — said it's welcome news.
"We support anything that's going to be able to get naloxone into the body of people who are 'OD'ing," he said.
Health groups and advocates across the country have been clamouring for naloxone to be widely available in order to prevent deaths, following a number of fatalities linked to street drugs containing the powerful opiate fentanyl.
Vancouver Police have said officers will not administer the injectable form of naloxone. They were lobbying Health Canada to speed up approval of the nasal spray.
Const. Brian Montague said the VPD will likely ensure some officers have the nasal spray when it became available but it will probably be a few months before that happens.
"It is not something that will happen overnight as there are a few obstacles to overcome and details to iron out," said Montague.
When someone has overdosed on opiates such as heroin or fentanyl, Naloxone can restore breathing within two to five minutes.