Winnipeg facing Naloxone shortage: MHRN

The Manitoba harm reduction agency says Winnipeg has a shortage of Naloxone. Morgan Modjeski has more on the life-saving drug which can reverse opiate overdoses.

By Morgan Modjeski and CityNews Staff

WINNIPEG (CityNews) – Winnipeg is facing a shortage of Naloxone, which could lead to health risks and death relating to drug addiction.

The shortage the city is facing is according to the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network (MHRN), which connects advocacy groups working to reduce overdose and offer support to substance users across the province.

Arlene Last-Kolb has been advocating the importance of Naloxone for years. Her son Jessie died of a fentanyl overdose in 2014 and says had there been a Naloxone kit available, he may still be here today.

Now, seven years after her son’s death, she’s frustrated by the fact some organizations in the city are experiencing supply issues when it comes to the life-saving drug, which can be used to reverse opiate overdoses.

“These kits should be everywhere and anywhere for anybody to access, and right now, our government, the program, is not keeping up with demand.”

The shortage, according to MHRN, has been ongoing for roughly four weeks and has resulted in network members in Winnipeg getting partial and incomplete shipments of the life-saving drug.

In a statement, a provincial spokesperson confirmed there has been what was called a “brief supply issue” that has caused a “short-term wait” for some orders. However, officials say the wait is set to be addressed and there will be “sufficient stock” on hand to fill orders regularly in the coming weeks.

For Kolb, who is also the co-founder of Overdose Awareness Manitoba, she feels the province has not been listening to those on the front lines, saying Naloxone supply should not be an issue in 2021.

“I’m so friggin mad. I know that there are people that do not have Naloxone who will lose their loved one and that shouldn’t be happening.”

Kolb says the lack of Naloxone in the city also creates another layer of trauma for those who are struggling on city streets.

“Is it alright just to leave people high and dry, that they don’t have Naloxone and they can’t save their friends, and they have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Talk about mental health.”

But Kolb adds the province needs to take action to ensure there is a consistent and reliable supply of Naloxone coming into the province. She says she’d like to meet with members of the government to detail the need, as she says they need to understand that a better supply of these kits may mean less deaths on the streets of the city.

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