The Changing Face of Addiction and Opioid Poisoning

New survey shows 1 in 5 Canadians know someone with an opioid addiction; further education and access to opioid overdose antidote key to combat crisis

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Aug. 31, 2017 /CNW/ - In Canada the incidence of both fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses continue to rise across all geographies and demographics.  In 2016 there were at least 2,458 deaths due to opioid overdose and there were 13 Canadians a day hospitalized for opioid poisoning.i  Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicates that seniors have the highest rates of hospitalizations related to opioid poisoning, while youth (aged 15-24) have the fastest growth rate in hospitalizations.i 

Despite this data, a recent national survey showed that 92 percent of Canadians believe that the issue of opioid poisoning and overdoses is related to those addicted to illicit opioid street drugs.ii  This finding was part of a national survey conducted by Adapt Pharma in advance of International Overdose Awareness Day, a global event observed each year on August 31st. 

There is often a stigma associated with those who are dealing with opioid use disorder; in reality anyone taking a prescription opioid may be vulnerable to overdose. Very often people are unaware of the dangers of inadvertently misusing opioid prescription drugs, whether it's taking the wrong dosage or taking it at the same time as other medication.

According to the survey, one in five (20%) Canadians report knowing someone with an opioid addiction.

"With so many Canadians affected by opioid poisoning, we continue to support increasing the awareness, education, and services that address the risks of opioid use and overdose," said David Renwick, General Manager of Adapt Pharma Canada, the manufacturer of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray, an emergency opioid overdose treatment.

Additionally, the survey found the majority (70%) of Canadians are aware of 'naloxone', the emergency antidote drug used to treat someone suffering from an opioid overdose. Improving access to naloxone within communities is a critical factor in helping reduce deaths due to opioid overdose.  Across Canada, more than 400 organizations now rely on NARCAN™ Nasal Spray which is used to treat opioid overdoses.  Since its introduction in Canada more than a year ago, tens of thousands of first responders and hundreds of government agencies and community organizations across Canada now rely on NARCAN™ Nasal Spray to help combat the opioid crisis in an emergency situation, including RCMP officers, numerous police and fire services, hospitals, schools and recovery treatment centers nationwide.

"NARCAN™ Nasal Spray was designed with the general public and communities in mind as a ready-to-use, needle-free option for opioid overdose emergency treatments. We continue to work diligently with community stakeholders, first responders and government agencies to ensure broad access to NARCAN™ Nasal Spray. Events like International Overdose Awareness Day are important in raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with overdoses, which better enables communities to address this crisis." said Renwick.


Survey results were produced from an online survey conducted August 15-16 2017 among 1,212 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists and are aware of the health crisis in Canada involving overdoses from opioids. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.7%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language.) Census data was used to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


Naloxone Hydrochloride Nasal Spray is a pure opioid antagonist indicated for emergency use outside of a hospital to reverse known or suspected opioid overdose, as manifested by respiratory and/or severe central nervous system depression.

Naloxone Hydrochloride Nasal Spray can be administered by a bystander (non-health care professional) before emergency medical assistance becomes available, but it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Emergency medical assistance (calling 911) should be requested immediately when an opioid overdose is suspected, before administering naloxone.

In clinical studies, nasal edema, nasal inflammation, nasal dryness, nasal congestion, muscle spasms, musculoskeletal pain, headache, dizziness, constipation, nausea, toothache, rhinalgia, xeroderma, and blood pressure increase were reported.

The availability of NARCAN™ Nasal Spray in Canada under the Interim Order signed by the Minister of Health in July 2016 underpins the goal of Health Canada to expedite community access to naloxone and equip first responders and the general public with the ability to readily and rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

Adapt Pharma Canada Ltd. has established dedicated distribution channels that allow first responders, public health organizations, and individuals to readily access NARCAN™ Nasal Spray.  Adapt Customer Support can be reached at 1-877-870-2726 or by e-mail

Naloxone Hydrochloride Nasal Spray is available as 4 mg/0.1 mL single-dose sprayer, carton of 2 devices.

Please see Indications and Important Safety Information below.

The full product monograph for NARCAN™ Nasal Spray is available at  



Serious Warnings/ Precautions

Emergency medical assistance (calling 911) should be requested immediately when an opioid overdose is suspected, before using naloxone.

Individuals with a satisfactory response to an initial dose of naloxone should be kept under continued surveillance.

Caregivers administering naloxone should be prepared to act in response to or assist the patient in cases of potential adverse reactions such as aggressive reactions, convulsions and vomiting.  Special attention is warranted if naloxone is administered to a neonate or a pregnant woman.


In the absence of opioids, in opioid naïve people, naloxone administration shows essentially no pharmacologic activity. In opioid dependent people, naloxone may trigger an acute opioid withdrawal syndrome.

The effectiveness of naloxone has not been assessed in people with intranasal conditions such as abnormal nasal anatomy, nasal symptoms (i.e., blocked and/or runny nose, nasal polyps, etc.) or in people having a product sprayed into the nasal cavity prior to naloxone administration. 

Naloxone does not counteract overdoses due to: barbiturates, benzodiazepines, psychostimulants (e.g., cocaine, amphetamines, methylphenidate, etc.), alcohol, or any other non-opioid drug such as non-opioid tranquilizers, anesthetics or sedatives.   Naloxone is not effective against respiratory depression due to non-opioid drugs.

Naloxone Hydrochloride Nasal Spray should be administered with caution to persons who are known or suspected to be physically dependent on opioids.

Special Populations

Pregnant Women:  There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.  Administration of naloxone to an opioid-dependent pregnant woman may induce an acute opioid withdrawal syndrome, which may precipitate preterm labor or fetal distress. Naloxone should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.

Nursing Women:  It is not known whether naloxone is excreted in human milk. Studies in nursing mothers have shown that naloxone does not affect prolactin or oxytocin hormone levels.

Pediatrics:  Naloxone administration may cause an acute opioid withdrawal syndrome which may be life threatening in opioid dependent neonates if not recognized and properly treated.  Clinical data is limited and naloxone should be administered to a neonate only if clearly needed.  As for any use of naloxone, emergency medical assistance should be requested immediately, before administering naloxone in a neonate.

Geriatrics (> 65 years of age):  Geriatric patients have a greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.  Therefore, the systemic exposure of naloxone hydrochloride can be higher in these patients.

Reporting Side Effects

You can help improve the safe use of health products for Canadians by reporting serious and unexpected side effects to Health Canada. Your report may help to identify new side effects and change the product safety information.

3 ways to report:


NOTE: Contact your health professional if you need information about how to manage your side effects. The Canada Vigilance Program does not provide medical advice.


  Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits Due to Opioid Poisoning in Canada -Canadian Institute for Health Information. Available at: 
  International Overdose Awareness Day National Survey. Conducted August 15-16, 2017. Angus Reid Forum
  NARCAN™ Nasal Spray. Product Monograph. Available at: Accessed August 2017.
i Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits Due to Opioid Poisoning in Canada -Canadian Institute for Health Information. Available at:  
ii International Overdose Awareness Day National Survey. Conducted August 15-16, 2017. Angus Reid Forum 
iii NARCAN™ Nasal Spray. Product Monograph. Available at: Accessed August 2017.

SOURCE Adapt Pharma

For further information: For media inquiries: Jake McCann, 416-355-7415,

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