Manitoba recently changed the classification of naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, from a Schedule II drug to an unscheduled drug. The move is expected to reduce opioid overdose deaths and remove barriers to accessing the life-saving drug.
A Schedule II drug does not require a prescription but can only be sold in pharmacies, whereas an unscheduled drug can be sold on a shelf in any retail location.
“This legislative change will open up access for front-line social service providers to provide kits where they are needed most,” Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said. “It will also allow retail kits to be sold at a range of retail locations to further improve access to the drug, helping us protect Manitobans from death related to opioid overdose.”
The change was recommended in the Improving Access and Co-ordination of Mental Health and Addictions Services: A Provincial Strategy for all Manitobans report.
Across the province, there are 125 Take-Home Naloxone program registered distribution sites. Through November, the government sent 5,635 kits to these distribution sites. In June, the government doubled access to naloxone kits as part of its tCOVID-19 response.
Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan also have made naloxone an unscheduled drug.