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

COLUMN: Don’t be surprised to see hordes of teenagers gathering during this pandemic

The complexity and nuance of public health warnings look like mixed messaging to minds young and old

RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

The 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge, clean up is ongoing

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

Chilliwack RCMP officers find rewarding work in Mental Health Liaison Unit

Two officers are trying to bridge the gap between police and those with mental health issues

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

One injured in South Surrey shooting

Shots reported in area of 194 Street and 34 Avenue

Report raises questions about COVID outbreak that killed 25 seniors at Langley Lodge

CEO defends leaked document that’s igniting queries about BC’s most deadly COVID outbreak

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read