Posted on May 16, 2016

Speaking in Support of Bill 205: The Pharmacy and Drug (Pharmaceutical Equipment Control) Amendment Act, 2016

Ms Babcock: Thank you. Bill 205, the Pharmacy and Drug (Pharmaceutical Equipment Control) Amendment Act, 2016, is a good start. It’s a good start because we don’t just need a punishment for wrongdoers; we need a way for it to help people that are stuck in these circles and these cycles. We need a holistic wraparound strategy for opioid use. We need this strategy to prevent overdose and abuse within our system. Bill 205 can be part of this strategy, which may assist law enforcement to get drugs such as fentanyl off the streets. It’s a tool in the tool kit, and that tool kit must also include data reporting, prescription monitoring, triplicate drug prescription programs, education for the public and professionals, and advocating for stronger measures across Canada as well as continuing to support harm reduction strategies with access to naloxone, which can help reverse opioid overdoses. It saves lives.

To see patients come into hospitals suffering from opioid overdose is heartbreaking. Fentanyl does not just affect any one demographic; it affects all Albertans because it’s hidden. Naloxone can save lives, but there are much longer term effects once a naloxone kit is used. We see patients suffering from psychological trauma and guilt when they’re conscious. For addicts we see severe instances of delirium tremens, also known as the DTs, and long, long recoveries. I’ve had to tie people to their beds. I’ve had to drug people so that they aren’t conscious. That’s part of what happens when somebody is an addict. Many times this leads to a relapse. Many of our patients that we see have compromised mental health, and many times this is the first opportunity or the best opportunity for mental health intervention.

With an overdose treatment must be holistic, and the problem is that many times these treatments can be refused, which is why we need to work on our education and our outreach activities by making it illegal to own a pill or tablet press or capsule-filling machine unless licensed, with consequences increasing as these things happen. Bill 205 is a good start to help our populations at risk of an overdose, as is Alberta Justice making proceeds of crime grants available to police and community partners to fund awareness and prevention.

It’s estimated that 1 in 10 Albertans over the age of 15 will battle drug or alcohol dependency at some time in their lives, and over half of those are between the ages of 20 and 39. We see them in the emergency departments. We see them in our urgent care centres. Being able to access naloxone easier is a great thing, and not having to deal with this hidden danger is even more of a great thing.

Most of our teens – I have two, and I know that many people have or have had them – don’t think about the long-term consequences of their actions. They’re looking for a fun night, and they don’t know that fentanyl is in those drugs. I want to protect our teens, and I want to protect our young people, and I want to protect these 20- to 39-year-olds, who have so much promise. I don’t want to see these kids, these young people become addicts in our society and be punished just because they’ve made a bad decision.

This devastating effect on our communities is why our government takes the essential issue of fentanyl and opioid abuse very seriously, and I think that we need to support a bill like this. Thank you.

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