The opioid crisis continues to be a top priority for us and other public health organizations across the province. BC’s opioid overdose crisis has continued its unprecedented escalation over the past three years. 2017 saw a total of 1,448 illicit-drug overdose deaths, compared with 991 in 2016 and 522 in 2015.
More than 80% of overdose deaths in 2017 involved the opioid Fentanyl, with the majority of those deaths occurring in Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.
Public Health Emergency
The sharp increase of drug-related overdose deaths in BC prompted the Province’s Provincial Health Officer to declare a public health emergency in April 2016 which allowed medical health officers to begin to collect real-time information on overdoes to immediately identify where risks are arriving and protect those most at risk.
Naloxone is an antidote to opioid overdose. Overuse of opioid drugs – such as morphine, oxycodone, methadone, heroin, or fentanyl – can slow or completely stop breathing.
When administered properly, naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, restoring normal breathing and consciousness within 1 to 5 minutes of injection, preventing death or brain damage caused by lack of oxygen.
Available in both injectable and nasal form, naloxone has been one of the most valuable tools in preventing overdose deaths during BC’s opioid crisis.
- College collaboration on building awareness of how to use naloxone (or resources), Toward the Heart / Kits in pharmacies, combatting stigma (stopoverdoseBC.ca) etc
Take Home Naloxone Program
The BC Centre for Disease Control started the Take Home Naloxone program in 2012 to provide life-saving training and kits to people at risk of an opioid overdose.
Over 85,000 Take Home Naloxone Kits have been distributed across BC since 2012 through the Take Home Naloxone program. In December 2017, the program was extended to community pharmacies to help provide more kits free of charge to people who use substances or are likely to witness an overdose.
There are currently 1563 participating Take Home Naloxone sites in BC, including 779 registered pharmacies.
Kits are available through the Take Home Naloxone program, at no cost, to:
- Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose
- Individuals likely to witness and respond to an overdose such as a family member or friend of someone at risk
Whether naloxone is provided at a community pharmacy through the Take Home Naloxone program or by purchase, pharmacists play an important role in helping provide naloxone to those who may need it, together with training in overdose recognition and response.
In the past year, the College has engaged in a number of independent and collaborative efforts to raise awareness of naloxone, fentanyl and BC’s overdose crisis. This included a comprehensive, dedicated resource page outlining naloxone, its use and availability, as well as a number of articles written both by the College, as well as other BC health organizations invested in combatting the overdose crisis.
The College also continued its naloxone Campaign, using social media and digital advertising, to help share these resources and build awareness of how to use naloxone to save a life.
- The College’s Naloxone Resource page received over 32,000 page views over the past fiscal year.
- The College’s Facebook Ads (which run on Facebook, Instagram, and the Facebook Audience Network) reached an estimated 435,668 people (mostly in BC) and generated an estimated 889,985 impressions over the past fiscal year.
- The College’s Google Ads generated an estimated 1,05,000 impressions over the past fiscal year.
Articles and Resources
- College of Pharmacists of BC: Emergency Use Naloxone in BC
- Nasal Naloxone Available at No Cost to First Nations in BC
- Guest Post: What Pharmacy Professionals Need to Know about the Take Home Naloxone Program
- A Message from Our Board Chair: Understanding How Stigma can Impact Patient Care
- Guest Post: Nurse Practitioner scope expanded to include opioid agonist treatment prescribing
- Take-Home Naloxone Kits Now Available at Community
- Director of Licensing Standard of Practice: Preventing Opioid Overdose Deaths – Update
- Guest Post: New Provincial Training Programs
- Guest Post: Opioid Overdose Response Training
- Avoiding Accidental Exposure from Fentanyl Patches
- Guest Post: New BCCSU/MoH Guideline for Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder
- Safe Disposal of Fentanyl Patches
- Naloxone, Fentanyl and BC’s Opioid Overdose Crisis
Events and Presentations
The College used events and presentations to build awareness of the opioid overdose crisis.
First Nations Health Authority Mental Health and Wellness Summit
In February 2018, the College was fortunate to be a part of the first Mental Health and Wellness Summit hosted by the First Nations Health Authority.
As an exhibitor, the College used this opportunity to spread awareness of emergency use Naloxone, its importance in helping prevent opioid overdose deaths, and what we’ve done to make it more accessible to the public.
(Learn more about the College’s action on improving cultural humility and safety for First Nations in BC.)
The College highlighted the opioid overdose crisis and the College’s related resources through its presentations at the following events over the past fiscal year:
- Shoppers Drug Mart Associate National Conference (2018)
- Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, BC Branch, Harrison Pharmacy Management Seminar (2018)
- BC Pharmacy Association Annual Conference (2017)