Pubdate: Sat, 23 Sep 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Gord Young
Page: A1


Many cases unreported due to naloxone distribution, says health

There's likely a large number of unreported opioid overdoses in North

That's because the antidote naloxone is being distributed by
pharmacies and front-line organizations to those struggling with
addiction, as well as their friends and family members, throughout the

Kathleen Jodouin, HIV education co-ordinator at the AIDS Committee of
North Bay and Area, says her organization has had a take-home naloxone
program in place for the past two years. And, she says, the drug,
which temporarily reverses the effects of heroin and other opioid
drugs, is frequently given out.

In fact, Jodouin said she spoke to a man Thursday who stopped by the
AIDS committee office to pick up a naloxone kit after his life was
saved by a friend who used the nasal spray on him following an overdose.

"He wanted to be able to repay the favour," she said, noting the AIDS
committee also provides naloxone training and encourages organizations
that work with people with opioid addiction to have the kits on hand.

Although those who have been administered naloxone are supposed to
seek medical attention, Jodouin acknowledged many cases likely never
get reported because paramedics aren't called or individuals refuse to
be transported to hospital.

"Often, they're afraid of getting into trouble, "she said, noting the
AIDS committee is trying to spread the word about the The Good
Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which became law in May.

It gives people who report overdoses to 911 immunity from being
charged themselves with minor drug crimes or found in violation of
certain court-ordered conditions.

Jodouin said pharmacies provide naloxone for free to anyone with a
health card. But, because many users don't have health cards, Jodouin
said the the AIDS committee gives out nasal spray kits for free to
anyone who is opioid-dependent or knows someone who is. The North Bay
Parry Sound District Health Unit is expected to soon start offering a
take-home naloxone program. And there's been some talk of equipping
firefighters with the drug.

The province indicated this week that opioid overdose-related visits
to Ontario emergency rooms are sharply rising. And it announced some
new measures to tackle what has been described as a national public
health crisis.

The latest numbers for the North Bay area are down compared to those
of the province at 3.9 emergency room visits per 100,000 in April, for
example, compared to 4.3 in Ontario.

But past data has shows a number of dips and spikes in the number of
opioid-related deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits in
this area since 2003. Often, those spikes have been far greater than
the provincial average, especially when it comes to opioid-related

In 2006 and 2007, for example, the provincial numbers were up slightly
up over this area at 3.5 and 3.4 per 100,000 respectively, compared to
3.1 for both years. But there were more opioid-related deaths per
100,000 in this area between 2008 and 2015 than the provincial average.

In 2015, for instance, the local figure was 8.6 per 100,000 compared
to 5.3 provincially. Last year, the provincial numbers were higher at
6.2 compared to 5.5 locally.

The province announced this week that it will make fentanyl test
strips available to supervised injection sites - including pop-up ones
- - so users can test their drug for the presence of fentanyl, which is
100 times more powerful than heroin.

That's in addition to expanding the supply of naloxone to at-risk
people by distributing it through emergency departments, more access
to treatment and community-based withdrawal management services and
addictions programs, expanding rapid access addiction medicine clinics
across the province and money to hire more front-line harm reduction

The province has also earmarked money for Indigenous-specific care,
youth-specific services, partnering with the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health to expand addiction treatment provided by family health
teams, supporting health-care providers on appropriate pain management
and opioid prescribing and more money for harm reduction programs such
as needle exchanges and supervised injection services.
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MAP posted-by: Matt