Monday January 26, 2015

Narcan saves addicts’ lives

While we appreciate Ian Hames’ concerns (in a letter published July 4) about naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of potentially deadly drug overdoses, his concerns are theoretical and unfounded. Simply put, naloxone saves lives.

Naloxone (also known as its brand name, Narcan) can be injected into someone who has overdosed on an opiate, such as heroin, and acts in seconds to prevent them from dying.

Staff at Insite, our supervised injection facility, has used naloxone to counteract potentially deadly overdoses for years.

As a result, since it opened in 2002, there has not been a single overdose death at Insite. The potential concerns raised by the letter writer have not occurred with this initiative.

Soon we will begin a pilot project in partnership with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to distribute kits with injectable naloxone, which will be accompanied by appropriate training. The project is modeled after an identical program in Toronto that has already shown to be effective in saving lives. 

The use of naloxone to prevent overdose deaths is of proven benefit and we consider it a necessary addition to Vancouver Coastal Health’s prevention, treatment and harm reduction initiatives. The appropriate use and distribution of naloxone also has the support of physicians and first responders in Vancouver.


Vancouver Coastal Health, chief medical health officer


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