A new environmental scan of access to naloxone in Canada finds that over 590,000 naloxone kits have been distributed from more than 8,700 distribution sites across Canada. More than 61,000 kits have been reported used to reverse an opioid overdose between 2012 and 2018.
The analysis was conducted by a pan-Canadian research partnership under the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) and led by researchers at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) with partners from Alberta, Ontario and Québec.
Naloxone is a drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The scan was conducted to better understand access and distribution of naloxone in response to the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths in Canada.
Currently, all provinces and territories maintain publicly funded take-home naloxone programs. While access to naloxone has increased across the country, there remain important barriers to achieving equitable access across communities. The report identified a number of geographical, political, and operational barriers in the distribution of the antidote, as well as barriers related to gaps in evidence and available research to guide practice.
As the opioid overdose epidemic continues to evolve and naloxone distribution programs continue to expand, there is a need for targeted analyses and consensus-building on key questions regarding naloxone distribution, overdose response, and program evaluation.
The environmental scan represents the first phase of a multi-year project on naloxone. The national research partnership under CRISM aims to support naloxone outcomes research, as well as develop best practice guidelines and performance indicators in the use of naloxone for cases of suspected opioid overdose.
The Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse (CRISM) is a national research consortium funded by the Government of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), Canada’s federal funding agency for health research.