Health Canada has approved spray hydromorphine as the latest option in treating patients with severe opioid disorder.
This means that Canada is the first country in the world to approve the drug, commonly used for severe pain management, as a way of getting control over the opioid crisis by killing three people a day in BC only.
Health Canada said in a news release on Wednesday that 10,337 people had died from fatal overdoses since 2016. Around 4,000 of those deaths occurred in B.C.
“Increasing access to a safe supply of prescription opioids is an innovative tool that will help save lives,” said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor in a statement on her social media accounts.
Wednesday's move follows a similar move at the end of April, when the federal health ministry announced that provincial governments could import diacetylmorphine – or prescription heroin – from other countries to use as a treatment option, although the drug is not t has been authorized yet to be sold in Canada.
Increasing access to a safe supply of prescription opioids is an innovative tool that will help save lives. Canada is the first country to approve hydromorphine that can be injected as a treatment for severe opioid disorder. https://t.co/Dybrfwr9kZ pic.twitter.com/ofD5hRLX5K
– Min. Petitpas Taylor (@CDNMinHealth) May 15, 2019
“Studies have shown that injecting hydromorphine and diacetylmorphine are important drugs that can help stabilize and support the health of some patients with severe opioid disorder, including more treatment programs,” said the ministry.
“These two drugs are used in the treatment of substance use disorder in other countries with recognized success.” T
In BC, Crosstown Clinic is the only facility offering such treatment over the last four years. As many as 130 patients are prescribed heroin at any one time, and are usually “long-term drug users”, an average of 15 years, who have been through treatment more than 10 times but have seen no success.
Health New Canadian rules include that injecting hydromorphine must be administered under the supervision of an experienced doctor who has been trained in injecting opioid treatments.