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article imageNaloxone nasal spray given fast-track approval in Canada

By Karen Graham     Jul 8, 2016 in Health
Canada's Minister of Health signed an interim order on Wednesday that allows immediate access to Narcan (naloxone) nasal spray. The drug is made by Adapt Pharma, and can be imported from the U.S. and sold in Canada.
Even though Health Canada is reviewing an application for the nasal spray's authorization, which can take additional time, health minister Jane Philpott said that by signing the interim order, it would ensure that people had access to the life-saving nasal spray during the review process.
Naloxone, known by its trade name, Narcan, is used to counter the effects of opioids, like heroin or fentanyl. When someone overdoses and loses consciousness, the drug can be administered and the person revived.
Up until Wednesday, Naloxone has only been available in its injectable form in Canada, reports CBC News Canada. The move by Philpott comes about four months after Naloxone injectable was de-listed, making it available without a prescription.
Global News quoted Philpott on Wednesday after the signing of the order: “The number of opioid overdoses in Canada is nothing short of a public health crisis. First responders, police and family members need immediate access to formats of naloxone that are easy to use so that needless deaths can be prevented.”
Instructions for health care workers, first responders and patients and their family will be written in both English and French so that everyone will be able to administer the medication safely. Additionally, Health Canada has been educating the public in the safe use, storage and disposal of medications.
Straight.com writes that in June, B.C. chief coroner revealed that there had been so many deaths from overdoses this year that drugs are now killing more people than automobile accidents in the province. “Last year, there were 300 deaths in motor-vehicle incidents, and this year, as the minister said, we’ve had 308 deaths already from illegal drug overdoses,” Lisa LaPointe explained at a press conference in Vancouver. “If this trend were to continue, we’d be looking at about 750 deaths this year. So it’s hugely significant. The number of people dying from illicit drug overdoses is higher than any other unnatural category.”
Allowing the use of a nasal spray form of Naloxone is going to make it more acceptable to many people who are reluctant to carry around a syringe and needle. The Naloxone nasal spray can restore breathing within two to five minutes.
More about Health canada, naloxone nasal spray, opioid crisis, fasttracked, Overdose
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