Pubdate: Fri, 18 Nov 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Hank Daniszewski
Page: A3


Bundle overdose-fighting naloxone with opioid prescriptions to save
lives, area health unit urges

It's been proven to be the most effective weapon in the fight to
prevent deaths from opioid overdose, a major killer in Ontario.

Now the Middlesex-London Heath Unit wants anyone who gets an opioid
prescription to get access to and counselling on naloxone, the
medication that reverses the deadly effects of an overdose by
restoring respiration.

The health unit board voted Thursday to make that recommendation to
the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

"When they go to the pharmacy to get their (opioid) prescription
they're getting the naloxone, so they have it ahead of time," Shaya
Dhinsa, a health unit manager who prepared a report on naloxone for
the board, said Thursday.

The report outline shown al ox one has been a lifesaver for more than
a dozen Londoners. The health unit and other agencies have distributed
163 naloxone kits since June 2014 and 13 people suffering overdoses
were successfully resuscitated when naloxone was administered.

"That's 13 people whose lives have been saved in a two-year period,"
Dhinsa said.

In addition to kits given out to opioid users, Middlesex-London EMS
crews administered 47 doses of naloxone last year and 31 doses to the
end of October this year when responding to 911 calls for overdoses.
Information on the number of patients aided by those naloxone
treatments was not available.

Jay Loosley, supervisor of education with Middlesex-London EMS, said
it's not possible to quantify the number of people saved by na lox one
treatments because crews also use other methods, like oxygen masks, to
restore breathing.

"It buys them time. Naloxone usually increases their respiratory rate.
It increases their chance of recovery."

Naloxone is the last line of defence for users of opioids such as
morphine, hydromorphone and fentanyl. Opioid abuse began ravaging
London in the early 2000s, and by 2012, the city had the highest
per-capita opioid use in Ontario.

Health officials across the country are mobilizing to fight the
epidemic of opioid abuse. Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins are attending a two-day
conference on the opioid crisis in Ottawa Friday and Saturday.

Philpott is expected to announce the creation of a system to track
emergency department visits and overdose deaths across Canada.

In Middlesex-London, progress is being made to make naloxone more
widely accessible, Dhinas said.

Last month the Ministry of Health allowed naloxone kits to be
distributed to family and friends of people at risk of an opioid overdose.

In the past the kits were only available to those at risk of an
overdose who were clients of needle exchange programs.

Naloxone has also been reclassified as an non-prescription drug that
can be kept behind the counter of a pharmacy and dispensed for free to
those at risk of an overdose or their friends or family.

Dhinas said it is much harder to make progress on opioid drugs sold
illegally. But there are programs in London like the "Patch for Patch"
plan that requires patients using the powerful opioid fentanyl to
return the skin patch used to dispense the drug before they can get
another prescription.

Opioid use

* Between 2010 and 2014 prescriptions of opioids climbed 24 per

* 21.7 million prescriptions for opioids dispensed in Canada last

* opioid misuse is the third leading cause of death in Ontario.
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