07/21/2015 05:27 EDT | Updated 07/21/2016 05:59 EDT

Alberta Drug Kits Aim To Prevent Fentanyl And Other Overdoses

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says the kits are in response to the growing number of fentanyl-related deaths across the province.

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2013 file photo, OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. A Nevada legislator asked the drug company that makes OxyContin to turn over information about Nevada doctors suspected of overprescribing the powerful pain medication. Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, wrote a letter to the president of the drug-maker Purdue Pharam on FridayAug. 16, 2013 saying the company has an ethical duty to provide the information to the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners. The Las Vegas Democrat is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary and longtime backer of efforts to curb prescription drug abuse. He made the request days after two California lawmakers did the same based on a Los Angeles Times' article that the company has a database of 1,800 doctors who showed signs of dangerous prescribing, but has referred only 154 cases to authorities since 2002. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - Alberta Health is paying for kits to help people who are at risk of overdosing on dangerous opioid drugs such as fentanyl.

The province is providing funding for 200 take-home naloxone kits that are to be available for people in southern Alberta through Lethbridge HIV Connection starting on Thursday.

Another 800 kits are being made available in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Edson this month through a project being run by the Alberta Community Council on HIV.

Another 2,250 kits are to be made available if needed at a total cost of $300,000 this year.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says the kits are in response to the growing number of fentanyl-related deaths across the province.

Naloxone is an opioid-blocking drug that has been used to quickly reverse heroin, morphine, OxyContin and other opioid overdoses.

"We just couldn't sit back and it was important — the evidence is that naloxone is a life-saving drug and it needs to be available to people who are likley to overdose," Hoffman said Tuesday.

A community health nurse is to be available to show people how to safely inject the naxolone.

Alberta Health says anyone who can get a prescription in the province, and who is deemed at risk of an opioid overdose, can get a kit.

The province says each free kit will include two doses of naloxone, three single-use syringes, a pair of latex gloves and a step–by-step instruction pamphlet. (CJOC, The Canadian Press)

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