Community based Naloxone: a partnership to save lives

January 23, 2019

As of early December 2018, Government of Alberta (GOA) statistics show that 523 Albertans died from apparent accidental opioid overdoses - that’s only for 2018. The GOA says that on average, two individuals die every day in Alberta due to an apparent accidental opioid poisoning.

This is an area where pharmacies play a vital role in our communities – handing out a lifeline, of sorts, to anyone at risk of an opioid poisoning or anyone who could help reverse an accidental overdose.

Pharmacies began participating in the Community Based Naloxone (CBN) Program (formerly known as Take Home Naloxone) in January 2016. This initiative ensures that anyone who needs a naloxone kit can get one in the easiest and simplest way possible: just by asking for one. Identification is not needed when requesting a kit and, when providing kits to these individuals, it is preferable to not ask for identification. Asking for ID may feel  stigmatizing for those who might not want a naloxone kit noted on their profile and may dissuade them from obtaining this life-saving medication.  Additionally, some individuals may not have ID and again this should not be a barrier.

As a part of the CBN’s ongoing commitment to quality, the Alberta College of Pharmacy (ACP), Alberta Pharmacists' Association (RxA), and Alberta Health Services (AHS) have reviewed feedback about the program and collaborated on a new FAQ sheet which can be found on the AHS website. The FAQs for pharmacists offer help on topics such as training, kits for minors, requests for multiple kits, and reporting used kits, and provides links to access more information.

Training is not required for an individual to receive a kit, however the pharmacy should offer to provide training.  Failing that, the pharmacy should provide written materials and answer any questions the individual may have. Pharmacy staff who will be assisting anyone asking for a kit should be fully trained.

The Community Based Naloxone program has been successful. As of November 2018, about 1,100 pharmacies have distributed over 32,000 naloxone kits to Albertans since the program was first launched in 2016. Improvements are contemplated based on feedback from the naloxone kit usage forms. Pharmacies are encouraged to have those requesting a replacement kit to fill out the form. Again, no identifying information is needed. The feedback is only used to improve the program and revise the kits as needed. The Naloxone Kit Usage Form can be found on the AHS website under the Tracking and Reporting tab.

To help pharmacy professionals navigate the process of filling out an anonymous claim to Blue Cross, a link is also embedded for Blue Cross Benefacts sheet #715.

Further information to guide practice can be found in the naloxone guidance on the ACP website.

RxA provides online training for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy assistants and can be accessed at no charge. 

The CBN program can be contacted directly with any questions at naloxone.kit@ahs.ca.


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