Kitchener-Waterloo

Individuals at risk will no longer need prescription to access Naloxone

At risk individuals will no longer need a prescription and won’t have to pay to receive Naloxone as of June 24. The province has made Naloxone available over-the-counter in pharmacies to help reduce opioid overdoses in the province.

Opioid overdoses are now the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario

The Ontario government has made Naloxone, an anti-opioid drug, available over-the-counter in pharmacies to help reduce the number of opioid overdoses in the province. 

The change came after the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) reclassified Naloxone so that it can be used outside the hospital in case of an overdose situation.

No longer need a prescription

As of June 24, at risk individuals will no longer need a prescription and won't have to pay to receive Naloxone. Pharmacists will now be able to provide training on how to safely administer the drug.

Sanguen Health Centres in Waterloo and Guelph, a not-for-profit, community-based health care agency, has been handing out the kits which contain Naloxone since November of 2013.

Executive Director Dr. Chris Steingart, says that now that Naloxone no longer needs a prescription, it eliminates a barrier that was once there.

"It opens up access to it so much more," he said. 

He adds that despite the changes, his organization will still operate in the same way and will continue to provide training for those individuals at risk.

A serious public health concern

Opioid overdoses are now the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario according to the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition.

An overdose of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, morphine, heroin, methadone or oxycodone can cause a person's breathing to slow down or stop.

Naloxone however,an injectable medication, reverses this effect, causing a person to breathe normally and likely to regain consciousness.

The Ontario government recognized that opioid addiction and overdose is a serious public health concern. Ontario joined other provinces and territories last year to push Health Canada to remove the prescription status on Naloxone.

"More people that have Naloxone at hand, whether it's an individual at risk of overdosing themselves or a family member...of someone who is at risk or someone who might be present when someone overdoses. The more that someone in that situation has Naloxone, more lives are going to be saved," Steingart said.

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