Naloxone is a medication that quickly reverses the effects of an overdose from opioids such as heroin, methadone, fentanyl
and morphine. It is available in BC without a prescription and given as an injection into a muscle.
BC's Take Home Naloxone (THN) program began in late 2012 and provides free personal THN kits to people at risk of opioid
overdose or likely to witness and respond to an overdose. Registered THN distribution sites include harm reduction sites, community service organizations, emergency departments, correctional facilities, and community pharmacies, among others. Sites order naloxone from the provincial program and return records of the number of kits distributed to clients.
The Facility Overdose Response Box (FORB) program, launched in late 2016, provides boxes containing multiple doses of
naloxone and other supplies to eligible not-for-profits These boxes are designed for staff at facilities and community-based organizations to
use to respond to on-site overdoses. Site locations include supportive and subsidized housing, drop-in centres, and shelters, among others.
There are five core naloxone program indicators based on data available from the provincial naloxone database:
- The number of new THN sites enrolled in the provincial program each month. Site enrollment increased throughout 2017 in response to the ongoing overdose crisis. A key focus has been strategic expansion of site types and locations to fill gaps in access. The increase seen in December 2017 to February 2018 was due to the enrollment of a large number of community pharmacies across BC.
- The number of new FORB sites enrolled in the provincial program each month. Site enrollment began in December of 2016. All health authorities have FORB sites.
- The number of THN kits shipped to THN sites each month. The number of THN kits shipped to sites in BC has been increasing steadily since October 2015. THN distribution reached its highest peak in May 2018 with 20K kits shipped that month. The numbers of kits shipped to ordering sites each month is typically higher than distribution records received back. Kits shipped in a given month are not related to kits distributed to clients in the same month.
- The number of THN kits distributed to clients each month. Expansion of naloxone distribution or "ramp up" began in mid- 2016 in response to the ongoing crisis and continued throughout 2017. Prior to the program ramp up, an average of 1000 kits were distributed per month, during the ramp up period, as many as 6000 kits were distributed in some months. Distribution has been stable since late 2017 to the present time with approximately 4000 kits distributed per month.
- The estimated number of overdose reversed each month, using a provincially-funded THN kit. Overdoses reversed are estimated based on the number of clients refilling or receiving a THN kit, who report they used the naloxone in a previous kit to reverse an overdose. The estimated number of reported overdoses reversed using a THN kit in BC has been increasing since November 2015 with a peak in August 2017, during which 1,875 overdoses were estimated to be reversed in that month alone.
More information on both naloxone programs can be found at Toward the Heart.
Refer to the BC Naloxone Program Indicators data notes for more information about the indicators including definitions, data sources, and limitations.
Data provided by the BC Center for Disease Control and Regional Health Authorities.