opioids Expanding access to naloxone Policy revision permits MDs to prescribe drug for inclusion in overdose emergency kits While opioid overdose is now the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario, this risk of death can be significantly reduced through the timely administration of the prescription drug naloxone. Naloxone can reverse the lifethreatening effects of an opioid overdose, and is currently available only by prescription. In order to eliminate barriers to access, the College has revised the Prescribing Drugs policy to permit physicians to prescribe naloxone outside of a physician-patient relationship for distribution in opioid overdose emergency kits. The College also released an organizational statement expressing support for efforts to increase the availability of naloxone as part of the emergency treatment of opioid overdose. 20 Dialogue Issue 1, 2016 “Given the strong public health interest, and naloxone’s favourable risk-benefit ratio, we believed that we had a responsibility to specifically permit physicians to prescribe naloxone for opioid overdose emergency kits,” said Dr. Joel Kirsh, College President. Physicians who choose to prescribe naloxone for emergency kits must be satisfied that measures will be in place to identify and replace expired medication, and that kits will only be distributed to those individuals who have received appropriate instruction in its use. This instruction must emphasize that even where naloxone has been administered successfully, emergency medical care must still be sought. This advice must also be communicated in the written instructions contained in the kit. Health Canada is currently undertaking a formal consultation to re-evaluate the prescription-only status of naloxone. Should Health Canada allow naloxone to be distributed without a prescription, the policy revisions would be rescinded. photo: Courtesy of Toronto Public Health The College has taken action to address the rising prevalence of opioid overdose in Ontario by permitting physicians to prescribe naloxone for inclusion in emergency overdose opioid kits.