Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe recommends opioid users have a supply of naloxone on hand. (Black Press Media files)

Naloxone prevented 26% of possible overdose deaths in B.C.: study

Researchers say had naloxone kits been distributed faster, more people’s lives could have been saved

As B.C. stands at the forefront of the opioid crisis across Canada, a new study suggests wide distribution of naloxone has helped to significantly curb the number of overdose deaths.

The study, published in The Lancet Public Health, looked at the BC Centre for Disease Control’s use of a new mathematical model to assess the effectiveness of various public health initiatives brought in by government since the crisis hit.

A total of 869 people died over an illicit drug overdose between January and October 2016, the study said. Another 226 lives were saved with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone during that time.

“Clearly, fast and wide distribution of naloxone is key,” BCCDC medical director Dr. Mark Gilbert said Wednesday.

“We hope other jurisdictions in Canada and the world will take note and use our experience to make their own harm reduction programs as effective as possible.”

WATCH: Demonstrators march in Vancouver for national day of action to end overdoses

One overdose death was prevented for every 10 take-home naloxone kits that were used, the study found. (Sometimes, as many as three doses of naloxone are needed to be effective.)

Earlier adoption and distribution of the kits appear to have had a significant impact as well.

Take-home naloxone kits were made available in B.C. in 2012, and weren’t free until last December. By then, the number of people killed by a drug overdose had surpassed the number of people killed in other major causes such as car crashes.

Now, there are more than 1,500 active distribution sites in B.C., including hospitals, correctional facilities, First Nations and pharmacies.

In February, the province said more than 17,000 overdoses have been reversed since 2012, with more than 75,000 kits being distributed.

READ MORE: Free naloxone kits now available at pharmacies across B.C.

READ MORE: B.C. launches new drug-checking program, expands fentanyl testing

Fentanyl remains the top illicit drug to cause death in B.C. The powerful opioid is found in 71 per cent of the drugs found in people who died of an overdose, according to the coroner’s service, followed by cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

B.C.’s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe has repeatedly said not to use drugs alone, and health authorities have launched public awareness campaigns with ads on bus shelters, in bars and restaurants.

Seven people die every two days in B.C., according to the latest government statistics. Last year was the worst in B.C.’s recorded history, with the crisis claiming 1,446 lives. That number is expected to surpass 4,000 lives, as Health Canada continues to sort data.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Antique chainsaws stolen from BC Forest Discovery Centre in Duncan

Public asked to keep a look out for stolen items

VIDEO: Hold onto your funny bones: Ron James is back on the Island

He’s been called ‘a genius’, and ‘funniest man in Canada’. Find out why when he comes to town.

Chemainus campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

Malahat truck crash cleared but over 200 still without power

Hydro poles taken out in Monday afternoon crash

UPDATE with VIDEO: Home on Allenby Road suffers early morning fire

The fire department was first called to the scene at 6:30 a.m.

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Two Nanaimo residents share $5-million Lotto 6/49 prize

Jesse Logan and Teresa Winters Day matched all six numbers in Aug. 21 Lotto 6/49 draw

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

Most Read