MONTREAL, June 18, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Training peer helpers, outreach
workers and family members and friends to administer naloxone, a
simple-to-use medication used as an antidote for overdoses of opioids,
will make it possible to arrest the escalation of severe poisonings and
fatal overdoses among drug users in Montreal.
With the support of scientific data and experience gained in similar
projects in Vancouver and Toronto, as well as in the United States, the
Centre de recherche et d'aide pour narcomanes (Cran), an addiction
research and assistance centre, and Méta d'Âme, an association of users
and peer helpers, have launched a project known as PRO-FAN (prevention
and reduction of overdoses - training on, and access to, naloxone).
This pilot project aims to train third parties to come to the
assistance of regular or occasional users of opioids who fall victim to
an overdose. Known by the brand name NARCAN®, naloxone is an antidote
that is used in emergency rooms to reverse the effects of an overdose,
in particular respiratory distress and heart failure.
According to Dr. Marie-Ève Goyer, a physician at Cran, it is urgent that
we train people who are close to users at risk; these people include
peer helpers, family members and the police. At this point in time,
even ambulance attendants are not allowed to administer this drug. It
is also with some exasperation that Guy Pierre Lévesque, Director
General of Méta d'Âme, stresses the need to act quickly to save lives
and prevent further victims from succumbing to an overdose.
The Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux has stated that it has
asked the Institut national de santé publique du Québec to develop
recommendations, by September, regarding the administration of naloxone
by peer helpers, an approach that is advocated by the PRO-FAN project,
as well as other possible avenues for expanding access to naloxone.
Cran and Méta d'Âme are urging the government to act quickly to put a
legal framework in place for the PRO-FAN project, provide funding for
the project and make it sustainable. The project committee, consisting
of Cran, Méta d'Âme and the Douglas Institute Research Centre, will
meet on Thursday, June 19. The public health department of the Agence
de la santé et des services sociaux de Montréal will also attend this
By way of background on these efforts, here are the latest statistics
from the public health department: since May there have been 28 cases
of severe poisoning and 15 fatal overdoses—a tally never seen before in
such a short period of time in Montreal. The substances that were often
involved in the past were illegal opioids. The opioid class includes
heroin, morphine, prescription opioids such as hydromorphone
(Dilaudid®), oxycodone (OxyContin® or OxyNeo®), and fentanyl, an opioid
40 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl is often found as an
ingredient in synthetic drugs manufactured by clandestine laboratories.
"The administration of naloxone by third parties is not a panacea, but
it is clearly an effective solution. It is part of a desire to expand
the pharmacopeia in Quebec, which includes substitution treatments
using methadone or buprenorphine, but which should also include medical
prescriptions for injectable opioids and supervised injection services.
These treatments and services are highly productive and cost-effective,
and far cheaper than the costs associated with hospital care, legal
proceedings and the fight against crime. Furthermore, they serve as a
gateway to the healthcare system and encourage social reintegration,"
points out Dr. Goyer.
SOURCE: Centre de recherche et d'aide pour narcomanes (CRAN)
For further information:
Communications Officer, Cran
514 527-6939 ext. 226
Guy Pierre Lévesque
Director General, Méta d'Âme
514 528 -9000