TORONTO, July 7, 2016 - CAMH welcomes the federal government’s announcement that Health Canada will allow immediate access to naloxone nasal spray.
Naloxone has been used as an antidote for opioid overdose in hospital and paramedic settings for decades. It is known to be safe, and in places where it has been widely distributed, naloxone has helped stem fatal overdoses. Beyond that, naloxone can decrease survivors’ later frequency of injection and increase the likelihood that they will enter treatment.
Until now, naloxone has only been available in Canada as an intra-muscular injection, and until recently, multiple regulatory barriers prevented broad distribution of naloxone to users as well as to their family and friends – who are the ones most likely to be nearby and in a position to help in case of an overdose. Recent moves by federal and provincial governments to make naloxone available without a prescription and to provide it to correctional facilities and staff were important steps that will facilitate access. Now, the introduction of naloxone in its nasal spray formulation, which is easier to distribute and deliver, will allow first responders as well as friends and family to more easily administer naloxone.
Solving the opioid crisis will require sustained action on multiple fronts. In the meantime we can – and must – do more to prevent overdose deaths. The recently announced measures, including allowing access to naloxone nasal spray, will help achieve that.