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Canada Opioid vending machines among ‘out of the box’ overdose solutions at Vancouver forum

15:30  08 june  2018
15:30  08 june  2018 Source:   globalnews.ca

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Paul Wells: Overdoses killed 1,422 people in B.C. last year. For one doctor the solution is to Tyndall is considering calling the gadgets “dispensing machines ” rather than “ vending machines ,” in hopes of freaking out fewer people. Naloxone blocks the effect of opioids , especially during an overdose .

Vending machines have been used to successfully distribute unconventional items before, but Canadian health officials are looking to take it one step further by using opioid vending machines in Vancouver . By the first half of 2017, almost 1,500 people died from opioid -related overdoses .

Automated machines that dispense © Global Halifax/Alexa MacLean Automated machines that dispense "clean" hydromorphone opioid tablets are among the "out of the box" solutions to be discussed at an overdose roundtable in Vancouver on Friday.

A controversial proposal to give free drugs to users is among the topics that will be heard at a forum on possible solutions to B.C.'s overdose crisis on Friday.

Health experts, police, government officials and stakeholders are meeting for the third annual Overdose Action Exchange, a roundtable designed to brainstorm "out of the box" policies to help stem the tide of deaths caused by fentanyl and street drugs.

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The City of Vancouver has proposed installing opioid vending machines in order to combat the drug epidemic in the province that continues to claim lives. With the weather getting nicer, it’s the perfect opportunity to get out there and soak up some Vitamin D. We’ve compiled a list of the

A leading public health official suggests opioid vending machines could help solve British Columbia's drug overdose epidemic. A step in that direction is a Health Canada-approved proposal to pilot models of oral hydromorphone distribution in Vancouver and Victoria.

LISTEN: Brainstorming solutions to the overdose crisis

The meeting is scheduled a day after the BC Coroners Service released its latest data on illicit drug deaths in the province, reporting 124 suspected fatal overdoses in April and bringing the 2018 death toll to at least 511. Drug overdoses killed more than 1,400 people in B.C. last year.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) has proposed a pilot project involving automated "vending machines" that would dispense hydromorphone tablets, better known as dilaudid, to drug users. The centre's executive director said it's one of the more aggressive harm reduction models that will be discussed on Friday.

Hydromorphone is a pharmaceutical-grade opioid that's five times as strong as morphine.

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The proposed vending machine program would make hydromorphone available to registered users. With the death toll from fentanyl-related opioid overdoses confirmed at nearly 1,000 for 2017, health officials in Vancouver , Canada Do celebrities have a responsibility to come out of the sober closet?

In Vancouver , British Columbia, those struggling with opioid addictions may soon be able to obtain pills from a vending machine for a nominal price, allowing the government to both monitor their usage and the quality of the opioids they’re taking.

"We're at a point now where the drug supply is so toxic that we're really talking seriously about how to get people access to a safer supply of drugs and that's a direction we're going right now," Dr. Mark Tyndall told CKNW's The Jon McComb Show.

WATCH: BC CDC proposed drug vending machines

The idea is controversial, with critics charging that the move amounts to a government sanction of drug use, and that it removes personal responsibility from the equation.

Other critics such as Dr. Launette Rieb with UBC’s Department of Family Practice have warned that unsupervised hydromorphone use carries its own risks and can still result in overdoses, or help others become addicted to drugs.

READ MORE:

BC Centre for Disease Control proposes vending machines for ‘safe drugs’

But Tyndall argues the medical evidence is in, and that the proposal is one of the best ways to stop people from dying so that they can then seek treatment.

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A leading public health official suggests opioid vending machines could help solve British Columbia's drug overdose epidemic. A step in that direction is a Health Canada-approved proposal to pilot models of oral hydromorphone distribution in Vancouver and Victoria.

Making a safe opioid available in vending machines may be the next harm reduction tool to fight the deadly overdose epidemic, says the executive medical director of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Dr. Mark Tyndall said he envisions a regulated system where drug users would be assessed

He said therapy with products like methadone and suboxone have their place, but that many hard-core drug users simply aren't ready to use them.

"Certainly it helps people take away their drug cravings, but it does not address the many problems that people are using drugs in the first place for, and so people will continue to use drugs," he said.

"We've come to the conclusion that most of the drugs people are purchasing illegally are very toxic and they have a high chance of overdosing, so I think it's just a logical next step that we, as a first step, to connect with people, we try to offer them the drugs that they're seeking right now, and then we'll have time to work on substitution therapy and other treatments."

Tyndall pointed to the pilot project at Vancouver's Crosstown Clinic which has been offering hydromorphone injections to people with serious addiction issues, and which has been successful at keeping those people away from fentanyl-tainted drugs.

READ MORE: Vancouver drug users will now be able to test their drugs for fentanyl

"How do we scale something like that up? We have thousands of people using these drugs, it's unlikely in the near future we'll be able to get people access like [at Crosstown]," he said.

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Among their many differences, Canada and the United States share a common crisis: opioid overdoses . “I’m trying to get people out of the image of these as shopping mall-type vending machines that everyone can access,” Tyndall said.

An ATM-like machine for opioid drugs as one way to reduce the harm in the deadly overdose epidemic is getting closer to You put your finger on it, it pops out two pills, it’s on the cloud and every pill we know about,” Tyndall said. Canada's first crack pipe vending machines come to Vancouver .

"Many people don't want to go three times a day to a medical facility to inject drugs so the next logical step is to try to get people access to hydromorphone pills."

Tyndall said the machines can be equipped with biometric sensors to ensure only users registered in the pilot have access to the drugs, and that the pilot could be rapidly scaled up in areas most affected by the overdose crisis.

WATCH: Heartbreaking stories on the opioid crisis at national pharmacist conference

Tyndall acknowledged that the idea of giving drugs to users won't sit well with many people, but said he believes that attitudes are slowly shifting.

And he argued that other alternatives, such as police crackdowns, have failed.

"We know also that it's just not a deterrent. I've never met anyone that's using that's deterred because of law enforcement."

READ MORE: Free naloxone kits now available at 220 pharmacies throughout B.C.

Under the proposed pilot project, the vending machines would be installed at existing harm reduction sites or health facilities.

The BC CDC has yet to reveal details on how many or which sites the machines could potentially be placed in, when the pilot project might begin, or how drug users would qualify for it.

Vancouver overdose report calls for more funding for prevention sites .
Users at Vancouver's Overdose Prevention society report drug abuse due to psychological, physical pain. A new report from the group Data For Good Vancouver analyzed a year's worth of data from the Overdose Prevention Society.

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