Dialogue Volume 12 Issue 3 2016 - Page 19

Encourage high-risk patients to obtain life-saving naloxone photo: istockphoto.com I n response to the increase in opioidrelated overdoses, some pharmacies in Ontario have started receiving naloxone kits that can be provided to members of the public without need for a prescription and at no cost. Given this new development, physicians are urged to initiate a conversation about risk of overdose with their patients on opioid therapy and encourage patients who may be at higher risk of overdose to obtain naloxone and speak to their loved ones about signs of an overdose. “[The expanded availability of naloxone] provides a great opportunity for doctors to re-visit a discussion about overdose with their patients – some of whom may not have fully understood they are at risk,” said Dr. Pamela Leece, a family physician in the Substance Use Service at Women’s College Hospital. Patients and physicians can work together along with families/loved ones to prevent overdose by reducing known risks (e.g., opioid dose, other sedating medication, alcohol use), to be aware of the signs of an overdose if it occurs, and to emphasize the need to call 911 immediately, whether or not naloxone is on hand at the time. Naloxone is a non-addictive opioid antagonist that temporarily reverses the dangerous effects of opiates, including respiratory depression, sedation and hypotension. With prompt administration, naloxone Issue 3, 2016 Dialogue 19