Nova Scotia

Free life-saving naloxone kits finally available in Nova Scotia pharmacies

Naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The province announced Friday that naloxone kits are now available for free in 240 pharmacies.

Naloxone kits were supposed to be made available for free starting Sept. 1 in provincial pharmacies

The province has announced naloxone kits are now available for free in more than 240 locations across Nova Scotia. (CBC)

After nearly a month-long delay, life-saving naloxone kits are now available for free at Nova Scotia pharmacies.

According to the provincial website that tracks overdose deaths, as of Aug. 31 there were 30 confirmed and 13 probable deaths from opioid toxicity this year. 

On Friday, the province announced naloxone kits, which can reverse opioid overdoses, are now available for free in more than 240 locations across Nova Scotia. People looking for the kits can remain anonymous. A pharmacist will outline what's in the kit and how to use it.

The program is expected to cost $300,000 this year. The province had planned to have the kits available for Sept. 1.

Health Minister Randy Delorey said the reason for the delay is the distribution process had to go through some "additional steps."

"Sometimes the paperwork and the legal side of those agreements just takes a little bit longer than we'd anticipate, so that work's all been done," he said.

More than 500 distributed

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for the province, said over 500 kits have been distributed, which works out to an average of about two per pharmacy. 

However, Strang said it's an ongoing program and pharmacists can order more, based on the needs of their community.

"The more accessible we can make naloxone and have it in the hands of people who are likely to be in an overdose situation, naloxone does save lives," Strang said.

Who should pick one up?

Strang said anyone who might have to respond to an overdose should pick up a kit and understand how to use it. 

"We're encouraging any Nova Scotian who uses prescription opioids and/or street drugs that may be in a powdered or pill form — because those can be contaminated — or anybody who may respond to an emergency," Strang said.

"If you have somebody, a family member or a friend or something — anybody who fits either of those categories — we're encouraging them to visit a pharmacy where they can get both some training and education, and they'll get a package which contains two doses of naloxone."

If you suspect an overdose, call 911 immediately. The operator on the other end can walk you through how to use the kit.

The province is also reminding people the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects for those who call 911 in the event of an overdose emergency from being charged with simple drug possession.

With files from Jean Laroche