In an attempt to address the growing opioid overdose crisis in British Columbia, a new, federally-approved initiative will be carried out in the new year.
According to a recent Globe and Mail report, provincial health authorities will soon be distributing clean hydromorphone pills to drug users, in an effort to reduce hundreds of overdose deaths in B.C.
The idea is to make these pills available to registered users who are at high risk of overdosing, which they can then self-administer at supportive housing units or supervised consumption facilities
Initial trial run
The program will start its test run with about 200 people from Vancouver and Victoria, but health officials want to increase its scope as soon as possible.
The pills will be handed out about two to three times a day, at an estimated cost of 32 cents per pill – or $700 for two pills three times a day, for a year.
BC Centre for Disease Control plans to start the project in Spring 2018, and according to a Metro News report, will be using part of the funds from a $1 million Health Canada grant.
Authorities are still working on fixing the details of the program.
One of several measures taken to reduce overdose deaths
Over 1,200 people in British Columbia have died of drug overdose this year – lack of access to clean drugs (that weren’t laced with fentanyl) caused about 1,000 of those deaths.
As preventive measures, Vancouver Island Health Authority has begun handing out fentanyl-detection test strips at supervised consumption sites in Victoria and soon, other parts of the island.
And earlier this week, the province made free take-home naloxone kits available to opioid users (or people likely to witness an overdose) at 220 pharmacies across the province.