Training kits are given out as people come out to support International Overdose Awareness Day during a mass group naloxone training seminar at Centennial Square in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday August 31, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Some B.C. nurses given green light to prescribe safe drugs amid overdose spike

Between January and July of this year, 900 people have fatally overdosed in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a public health order giving registered and psychiatric nurses the power to prescribe safer opioids to those struggling with substance use.

The move marks the latest efforts by top provincial health officers to curb a months-long spike in fatal overdoses, powered by an increased toxicity in street-level drugs and COVID-19 protocols forcing many to use alone and indoors.

Under the Health Professions Act, eligible nurses will now be able to “prescribe specific drugs, including controlled substances, to manage or ameliorate the effects of substance use by a person who is diagnosed as having a problem substance use condition or substance use disorder,” the order reads.

B.C. has been under a provincial health emergency since 2016 due to the opioid crisis. Since then, more than 4,000 people have lost their lives to drug poisonings – a majority due to illicit fentanyl, a powerful opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

ALSO READ: B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

ALSO READ: Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Between January and July of this year, 900 people fatally overdosed.

“We know the pandemic has only made the street drug supply in B.C. more toxic than ever, putting people who use drugs at extremely high risk for overdose,” Henry said in a statement.

“Giving physicians and nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe safer pharmaceutical alternatives has been critical to saving lives and linking more people to treatment and other health and social services.”

Until today, physicians and nurse practitioners were the only health officials given the authority to provide safe alternative drugs.

Hydromorphone pills are being prescribed but injectable and powder forms of the drug as well as other medications are under consideration as alternatives to substances such as fentanyl that are on the street, Henry told the Canadian Press.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

overdose

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hiker finds body of dead man in Blind Bay park

Salmon Arm RCMP determine cause of death not suspicious

Morning Start: Canada Has a Completely Indoor Town

Your morning start for Tuesday Sept. 29, 2020

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Downtown Salmon Arm cancels Halloween Treat Trail

First time in 30 years community event won’t be taking place

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Ahead of likely second wave, 60% of Canadians relaxing COVID-19 measures

Proportion of Canadians not following safety measures has dropped by 3 per cent in the past two weeks

Hiker stumbles upon dead man in Blind Bay park

Salmon Arm RCMP determine cause of death not suspicious

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC VOTES 2020: North Okanagan nurse running for NDP

Harwinder Sandhu, who ran for NDP in 2019 federal vote, is declared Vernon-Monashee candidate

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Most Read