Work underway to respond to opioid misuse and overdoses

July 12, 2017

FREDERICTON (GNB) – An interdepartmental task group continues to work with its partners to respond to opioid misuse and overdoses in New Brunswick.

“Your government is concerned with the opioid crisis currently facing many areas of the country,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau. “That is why we have established an interdepartmental task group to provide expertise and oversight in the development of guidelines and plans for the prevention, monitoring, preparedness and response to opioids in New Brunswick.”

Opioids are medications that are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Most opioids are available by prescription only; the type and dose prescribed may be different for each patient. There are many dangerous and unpredictable effects from prescription drug abuse, including addiction, overdose and death.

Fentanyl is a synthetic drug that can be up to 100 times more potent than other opioids. It is a legal prescription drug generally used to manage pain.

The emergence of fentanyl in the illegal drug market is a particular concern because its high potency drastically raises the risk of overdose, especially when added to other street drugs.

“Opioids, including fentanyl, are having devastating effects throughout Canada,” said acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell. “By working together with its provincial partners, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health aims to promote and maximize prevention, awareness and intervention strategies in the face of this growing public health concern.”

To help address opioid overdoses, the provincial task group is focusing its efforts on five key areas: surveillance; resources and education; treatment interventions, awareness and assessment; personal protective equipment for first responders and first receivers; and public communications.

As part of the work on treatment interventions, the provincial government is studying options for making naloxone, a medication that can stop or reverse an opioid overdose, available to vulnerable populations. More details will be made available in the coming months.

The work of the task group has been ongoing for several months and includes participation from various government departments, the regional health authorities, Ambulance New Brunswick, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and indigenous and community groups.

Additional information, including a provincial government summary and a federal government reporton apparent opioid-related deaths, is available online.


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