For Immediate Release
Monday, December 14th, 2020
Public Applause for BC’s Ministries of Health and Mental Health and Addictions is Well Deserved
The Canadian Association for Safe Supply is Canada’s only national non-profit focused primarily on expanding access and supply to legal and regulated drugs. Visit our website at www.safesupply.ca
Vancouver, British Columbia- The Canadian Association for Safe Supply (CASS) would like to publicly thank British Columbia’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for their courageous steps toward ensuring people at risk of overdose have access to a safe supply. Recently, it was publicly announced that prescribing privileges in British Columbia would be extended to nurses and nurse practitioners, who will be given the power to prescribe safe supply drugs like hydromorphone to people at dual risk of overdose and COVID-19. .
“This is groundbreaking. Not only does the Provincial Health Order include your OST drugs like suboxone, but also urgently needed safe supply options like hydromorphone as well.” says CASS co-founder Jordan Westfall. “The province took a giant step forward for all people who use drugs when (provincial health officer) Dr. Henry signed that provincial health order.” added Westfall, referring to the Public Health Order that was signed by Dr. Bonnie Henry that extends prescribing privileges to nurses and nurse practitioners in British Columbia.
“This is the type of leadership that will end the overdose crisis, it was a bold, progressive decision that will save many lives.” Kudos should be given to both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for providing decisive leadership on this issue during recent months in which record-breaking numbers of British Columbians are dying of overdose.
It’s not just the provincial government that deserves the applause, Westfall says, as British Columbia’s College of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners took the initiative to prescribe lifesaving drugs where the province’s College of Physicians largely failed, after the release of the BC Centre on Substance Use’s (BCCSU) “Risk Mitigation in the Context of dual-public Health Emergencies” clinical prescriber guideline in March 2020. BCCSU’s guidelines recommended physicians prescribe oral tablets of hydromorphone, as well as other opioid, stimulant, and benzodiazepine drugs to support physical distancing practices among people at risk of overdose.
Over two thousand British Columbians have received prescriptions under BCCSU’s dual-risk guidelines. There is an estimated 83 000 British Columbians who meet the criteria for opioid dependence, according to a recent paper published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence. “The need is dire, we need prescribers to prescribe, and it’s such a relief to see nurses and nurse practitioners lead such important change.” says Westfall.
President, Canadian Association for Safe Supply (CASS)