MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Rexall has rolled out naloxone kits to all 446 of its drug stores across Canada.
The drug chain, part of McKesson Canada, said the opioid overdose antidote is available to patients without a prescription.
Rexall pharmacists have received enhanced training to help educate patients, family members and friends about the risks related to opioids as well as to assist in the assessment and response to potential overdoses using naloxone.
The pharmacy chain said that, since December, it has seen a 150% rise in the number of naloxone kits dispensed by Rexall pharmacists.
“Accidental opioid overdoses can happen to anyone, anytime. At a time when deaths due to accidental opioid overdoses continues to rise in all provinces, Rexall has significantly increased access to a life-saving treatment by making naloxone kits more available at every one of our stores in Canada,” Rexall president Beth Newlands Campbell said in a statement.
“Naloxone kits are not just for recreational drug users. There are thousands of Canadians that currently have an opioid prescription and are taking their medication appropriately,” she noted. “Unfortunately, they too are at risk of an accidental overdose and should have a kit on hand.”
Citing research from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Health Canada, Rexall reported that an average 16 people are hospitalized per day in Canada because of opioids (5,670 total in 2016), and in 2016 there were 2,816 apparent opioid-related deaths — or seven per day — in Canada. What’s more, 28% of the apparent opioid-related deaths in 2016 were people ages 30 to 39 years, and accidental opioid deaths have climbed 40% year over year in 2017. One in 170 deaths in Ontario is related to accidental opioid overdose.
Rexall noted that its pharmacists have begun playing a more integrated role in the delivery of primary health care services and, with the added training for naloxone, they are better prepared to counsel patients on the proper use of opioids and other controlled substances.
“Our pharmacists are an important and reliable source of information,” Newlands Campbell stated, “and they can talk to patients, family members or friends not just about the dangers around opioids, but also provide instructions and training on how to properly use a naloxone kit.”