Naloxone use concerns health minister

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Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said he is worried some opioid users may be employing a life-saving antidote as a "failsafe."

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/05/2017 (1969 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen said he is worried some opioid users may be employing a life-saving antidote as a “failsafe.”

“I’m certainly hearing some incidences where people are using it as a method to feed the addiction that they have,” he said Wednesday. “That they’re… going up and down between opioids and naloxone. So that is a concern.”

Goertzen made the comment while reacting to a report that the frequency of the administration of the antidote naloxone by Winnipeg paramedics is soaring.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen says he's heard some opioid users are taking naloxone to help feed their addiction.

Paramedics carry naloxone with them at all times and city police carry it while on patrol.

Goertzen has also overseen an expansion in the provision of free naloxone kits to organizations across the province that distribute them to opioid users who are vulnerable to overdosing.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about any increase of use in (opioids) and the resultant increase in naloxone (use),” the minister said.

“That’s been helpful in some ways, but I also don’t want to send the message that naloxone is any way a cure-all because it’s not. Nor should it be relied on in feeding an addiction,” he said.

Goertzen said he is also concerned about the extent to which opioids are used medically, and he welcomed new treatment guidelines issued this week by the Canadian Medical Association.

The guidelines, reported in the CMA Journal, recommend restrictions on opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain.

“The harms associated with opioid therapy are substantial,” the article states.

It recommended patients with chronic non-cancer pain be offered “a trial of opioids” only after they have tried non-opioid therapy, including “non-drug measures.”

For patients beginning opioid therapy, the guideline calls for restricting the potency of prescriptions to less than the equivalent of 90 mg of morphine daily.

Patients currently on high doses should be encouraged to embark on a gradual tapering of dosage, and “multidisciplinary support should be offered, where available, to those who experience challenges,” the CMA said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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