Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a new public health order making it easier for people to access safe alternatives to toxic street drugs.
The order, issued on Wednesday, authorizes registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs “to help separate more people from the poisoned street drug supply to save lives and provide opportunities for ongoing care, treatment and support.”
Only doctors and nurse practitioners have been able to prescribe drugs, including substitute medications for illicit-drug users as an alternative to potentially deadly substances on the street.
Overdose deaths have spiked in B.C. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. B.C. recorded 911 overdose deaths between January and July of 2020. Over that same period of time, 195 people died of COVID-19.
More than 5,000 people have fatally overdosed in B.C. since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016. Before the pandemic, the number of fatalities had been on the decline for the first time since 2012.