Guest Post: What Pharmacy Professionals Need to Know about the Take Home Naloxone Program
Over 85,000 Take Home Naloxone kits have been distributed across BC since 2012 through the Take Home Naloxone program operated by the BC Centre for Disease Control. In December 2017, the program was extended to community pharmacies to help provide more kits free-of-charge to people who use substances or are likely to witness an overdose.
There are currently 1563 participating Take Home Naloxone sites in BC, including 779 registered pharmacies. The BC Harm Reduction Program works with pharmacy banners and distributors throughout BC to provide publicly-funded naloxone kits through centralized distribution models. For any questions related to your pharmacy’s participation, please contact your banner or distributor directly.
Independent pharmacies and pharmacies not currently participating in the program can visit towardtheheart.com/naloxone for more information on registering as a Take Home Naloxone site. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis and approvals depend on community overdose rates and existing community access to Take Home Naloxone. Due to the high volume of applications received, only stores that are approved to participate in the Take Home Naloxone program will be contacted further; however all applications will be held on-file for re-assessment as community needs change. In some cases where there is low community accessibility of naloxone, a particular pharmacy may be requested to participate.
Pharmacies not currently participating in the Take Home Naloxone program should refer patients who are eligible for a free kit to a participating Take Home Naloxone site in their community. The Take Home Naloxone Site Finder identifies all publicly-accessible Take Home Naloxone sites by community. The BC Harm Reduction program does not support the sale of kits to eligible patients where a participating Take Home Naloxone site is nearby.
Take Home Naloxone Kit Eligibility
Kits are available through the Take Home Naloxone program, at no cost, to:
- Individuals at risk of an opioid overdose
- Individuals likely to witness and respond to an overdose such as a family member or friend of someone at risk
The Take Home Naloxone program does not include providing kits to employers when the naloxone is intended for:
- Health care employees
- Occupational health & safety purposes
- Use by private business or other “for profit” locations
In such cases, naloxone may be purchased from a community pharmacy.
Non-profit community agencies are not eligible for the Take Home Naloxone kits; however, they may be eligible to participate in the Facility Overdose Response Box Program. Please refer any queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Providing Naloxone Outside of the Take Home Naloxone Program
For community pharmacies providing naloxone for purchase, Toward the Heart recommends including the following:
- 3 (0.4mg) Ampoules or Vials of Naloxone
- 3 Safety Syringes
- Alcohol Swabs
- Mouthpiece for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
- SAVEME steps (inserts available from bcpharmacists.org/naloxone and towardtheheart.com/naloxone-training)
Whether naloxone is provided at a community pharmacy through the Take Home Naloxone program or by purchase, pharmacists play an important role in helping provide naloxone to those who may need it, together with training in overdose recognition and response.
Training and Additional Resources
An online, self-guided training has been developed as a tool for patients to learn how to respond to an opioid overdose with a Take Home Naloxone kit. The training can be completed online or on mobile devices and generates a certificate of completion which patients can present to pharmacists to demonstrate understanding. This resource is available at naloxonetraining.com. Additional online training and resources can be found at towardtheheart.com/naloxone-training. Each patient’s level of knowledge should be assessed and training should be provided as appropriate.
In addition to the online training app, patients can also be referred to a Take Home Naloxone site (towardtheheart.com/site-finder) for hands-on training and practice with a naloxone kit, as well as access to harm reduction supplies including safer sex and safer drug use supplies. Many of the Take Home Naloxone sites also provide support and additional resources to individuals who use substances and their loved ones.
A Naloxone Training Points Checklist covers the key teaching points recommended when training a patient who is obtaining a kit. This resource is available at towardtheheart.com/resource/training-checklist-certificate/open
The College of Pharmacists of BC also has helpful Naloxone Patient Education Handouts (and other resources) available at bcpharmacists.org/naloxone which can be easily shared with anyone acquiring naloxone from a community pharmacy.
Toward the Heart
Toward the Heart is a project of the Provincial Harm Reduction Program and one of many initiatives of the Harm Reduction Program of the BC Centre for Disease Control.