Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jul 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Salmaan Farooqui
Page: E3


Festival patrons can trade the syringes in naloxone kits with
nasal-spray alternative

An Ontario music festival has reversed a policy that would have banned
attendees from bringing their own injectable naloxone kits, saying
patrons will be able to trade syringes of the opioid overdose antidote
for a nasal spray with the same effect. The WayHome Music and Arts
Festival, taking place near Barrie, Ont., this weekend, says it
changed its policy after hearing concerns from those who planned to

Naloxone is an antidote to the powerful opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl is
responsible for a growing number of overdose-related deaths. The drug
is sometimes found mixed with other drugs such as cocaine.

WayHome's previous policy didn't allow attendees to bring
naloxone-containing syringes. Organizers said medical staff on site
would be the only ones with the antidote.

Attendees will now be able to trade their naloxone kits for Narcan, a
nasal spray version of the antidote.

"In an effort to meet the concerns of those in possession of
injectable naloxone kits, we will now be offering the spray in
exchange for the injectable alternative at the gate," festival
spokesperson Todd Jenereaux said Tuesday.

Ottawa resident Maegan Mason was one attendees who had been concerned
about WayHome's earlier position. She said she was in contact with the
festival for the last week and was told she wouldn't be allowed to
bring her injectable naloxone kit. On Tuesday, she said she was
ecstatic to hear that the policy had changed.

"It's made my weekend feel a lot safer and I have a big weight lifted
off my shoulders," said Mason.

The 19-year-old said the earlier policy had left her concerned that
someone experiencing an overdose wouldn't be able to find a medical
professional in time whilst in a crowd of thousands.

"Not only can you not see where the first aid tent is or where the
medics are, but they can't see you," said Mason, who said getting out
of the crowd could take 15 minutes.

If attendees have their own opioid overdose-reversing kit, they can
administer the antidote and then find medical professionals, she said.

Deanna VandenBroek, a health promoter with the public health
department in Peterborough, Ont., said she couldn't think of a single
negative outcome from festival attendees having the opioid overdose
antidote themselves, especially because the antidote is harmless even
if used when not needed.

"If (naloxone) is only going to be in certain places and held by
certain people, it just means that much more time to get it to the
person who's overdosing," VandenBroek explained.

In certain cases, she said that administering naloxone as soon as
possible "could be the difference between life and death."

WayHome, now entering its third year, starts Friday and will run until
Sunday night. The festival in OroMedonte, Ont., will feature artists
Frank Ocean, Flume and Imagine Dragons as headliners.
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MAP posted-by: Matt