Ottawa

Naloxone access in Gatineau is adequate, Outaouais health unit says

There are adequate supplies of the life-saving opioid overdose antidote naloxone in Gatineau, according to the health authority for the Outaouais.

Opioid antidote available in 20 Outaouais pharmacies, according to medical officer of health

The Outaouais health authority says naloxone can be procured at some 20 pharmacies in the Gatineau area. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

There are adequate supplies of the life-saving opioid overdose antidote naloxone in Gatineau, according to the health authority for the Outaouais.

Jean-Pierre Courteau, the medical officer of health for Centre integré de santé et des services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), was responding to recent claims made by a University of Ottawa nursing professor that naloxone is nearly impossible to find in Quebec.

Marilou Gagnon told CBC Radio's All In a Day Tuesday that she's been unable to procure naloxone at pharmacies in downtown Montreal, as she is not a drug user, and that the situation is not much different in Gatineau.

On Wednesday, however, Courteau told Radio-Canada that naloxone supplies are acceptable.

Jean-Pierre Courteau is the medical officer of health for the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais. (Tony Choueiri/CBC News)

"I know that there are 20 pharmacies in the Outaouais that I cannot name that have naloxone over the counter when you talk to the pharmacist," Courteau said in French.

Hospitals, paramedics and some 30 people involved with community health organizations also have access to naloxone, he added.

Only free for drug users

In Ottawa, take-home naloxone kits are available for free at many pharmacies for people with Ontario health cards, as well as the Ottawa Hospital.

According to the Ordre des pharmaciens du Québec, however, the main problem in Quebec is not accessibility, but rather the fact that the province only reimburses the cost of naloxone kits to drug users.

The order is asking Quebec to cover the costs of the kits for relatives of drug addicts who wish to obtain them — which Courteau called a "legitimate" request.