(Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Kelowna pharmacists play key role in distribution of naloxone kits

Some may even witness overdoses and have to administer the kits themselves

Paramedics and firefighters aren’t the only ones who see the overdose epidemic on the front lines.

Pharmacists are trained in using naloxone kits and have been distributing them for free throughout the province since December, 2017.

READ MORE: Free naloxone kits now available at pharmacies across B.C.

Chris Waller, incoming president of the BC Pharmacy Association, said the role of the pharmacist lies in distribution and prevention.

“I do know a pharmacist who actually had to administer naloxone, but basically our involvement is really been on access. When naloxone kits first started to be dispersed, they were distributed by the Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver, and through some of the outreach resources,” he said.

Pharmacists and pharmacies have varied practices but there are pharmacies with a focus on additions and mental health, so there might be the potential to have a patient that has come to the pharmacy shortly after using, Waller said.

“I reference that pharmacist as an example, but there are certainly people that come into our store looking for these kits because they may know a cousin or someone with a history of addiction,” he said.

“The idea was pharmacists are in every community, pharmacists in many communities are open 24 hours, so you would be able to access this potential lifesaving product a lot easier,” he said.

RELATED: Illicit drug overdose deaths across B.C. trending down for 2018

Administering is similar to an adrenaline or an epi pen and pharmacists will review how to use a kit with their patients an injection, Waller said.

Naloxone kits are distributed at 26 locations in Kelowna. Waller said two kits have been taken from Lakeside Pharmacy, where he works, in the past year and has four currently in the store.

He will be speaking about a pharmacist’s role in distribution and prevention as part of International Overdose Awareness Day, Aug. 31.

Naloxone kits will also be given out during the day, starting at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a focus on education at Evangel Church followed by a free BBQ and music from 4 to 9:30 p.m. at Waterfront Park.

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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