Emergent BioSolutions, a maker of naloxone, announced its support for new Canadian guidelines for pharmacists when it comes to prescribing opioids.
As part of a national movement to combat the opioid epidemic in that country, a steering committee of eight pharmacists from across Canada established guidelines to decrease the number of Canadians dying from opioid overdoses.
The guidelines recommend that pharmacists dispense naloxone kits to every patient receiving an opioid prescription. Additionally, pharmacists were directed to follow up with those patients after three months after administering the naloxone, and then a year after dispensing the naloxone, as well as once a year after that.
“Pharmacists are a critical part of a community and are truly on the frontlines of the opioid crisis,” said David Renwick, Vice President & General Manager, Emergent BioSolutions Canada. “These consensus guidelines set a new standard of care in ensuring naloxone gets into the hands of those who need it – especially those who don’t recognize the risk their opioid prescription may pose. Having naloxone on hand can make a real difference when an accidental opioid poisoning occurs.”
The guidelines come at a time when opioid deaths in Canada are on the rise. In 2019, Canada recorded 3,823 opioid-related deaths, with the highest rates in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. A 2016 report found that a significant number of opioid poisoning deaths involved people who had active opioid prescriptions. In 2018, one in eight people in Canada were prescribed an opioid.
Emergent Biosolutions is the maker of Narcan, the nasal spray form of naloxone. An opioid antagonist which quickly blocks the effects of opioids and reverses the effects of an overdose, such as slow, shallow breathing or respiratory failure.