Nova Scotia

N.S. Health says naloxone missing from some overdose reversal kits sent to pharmacies

Nova Scotia Health says it's too soon to say how many overdose reversal kits are missing naloxone, but people should check their kits and, if necessary, exchange them for new ones.

Province says people should check contents of their kits and exchange them, if needed

A black case lies open on a table showing the contents, which include needles, swabs and an orange plastic pill bottle containing two doses of a drug.
Nova Scotia Health says some naloxone kits distributed free through pharmacies were inadvertently sent out without the drug needed to reverse an opioid overdose. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Update, March 24, 2023: Nova Scotia Health shared an update: "The supplier has started shipping replacement kits with the critical doses of Naloxone to the distributor to share with pharmacies. If you have picked up a take home Naloxone kit in Nova Scotia, please continue to check that your kit is complete. If the Naloxone is missing, you should return the kit to your local pharmacy and request a replacement... No adverse events have been reported since we became aware on Monday, March 20."

Nova Scotia Health is warning that some naloxone kits distributed through pharmacies do not contain the drug needed to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Each kit contains needles, instructions and other materials, along with two doses of naloxone in a plastic pill bottle.

Ashlie Cormier, provincial manager for prevention and health promotion in mental health and addictions, said a problem with some kits was discovered early on Monday and the health authority is trying to figure out how it happened and how widespread it is.

"It's really too soon for us to know exactly how many kits are involved and what I can tell you that's most important to us is that we get the information out there to the community as soon as possible, because even one kit that's out there that's missing naloxone is too many," she said.

"Our Nova Scotia Health procurement team is going to be working with the supplier to understand the extent of the actions and how to fix that."

The kits contain the life-saving drug and have been available free at pharmacies across the province since 2017, Cormier said.

No adverse events reported

There have been no reports of kits missing naloxone previously and distribution of the kits has been considered a success, she said.

Cormier urged people to open their kit and check the contents. If it does not contain naloxone, they should return it to the pharmacy for a replacement.

Nova Scotia Health said no adverse events have been reported since the problem was discovered on Monday.

According to the province, nearly 9,000 kits were distributed last year, with more than half of those through pharmacies.

The province says voluntary reports indicate 500 were used in 2022, not including doses administered by first responders and others who have the kits.

According to the government's opioid toxicity website, there were 64 confirmed or probable deaths in Nova Scotia due to opioids last year.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 37 years. He has spent the last 19 covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at