B.C. promises more nasal naloxone, training on post-secondary campuses after UVic student overdose death

B.C. promises more nasal naloxone, training on post-secondary campuses after UVic student overdose death
Sidney McIntyre-Starko is shown.

A meeting that may make B.C. universities and colleges more prepared for campus overdoses took place Tuesday.

Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, said in a statement to CHEK News that she convened B.C.’s 25 public post-secondary institutions to discuss how they can better prevent overdoses on campus.

The meeting was prompted by news of University of Victoria student Sidney McIntyre-Starko’s death breaking. Starko accidentally overdosed on fentanyl in a UVic dorm in January, dying days later at the age of 18.

Her family calls the medical response to her overdose a failure.

According to 911 calls the family accessed, they say security didn’t provide naloxone until directed by a 911 operator 13 minutes after responding.

“If you gave them naloxone because you suspected they had opioids in them, it will not harm them, but if they are suffering toxicity from an opioid, it may save their life,” said Eleanore Sturko, BC United critic for addictions told CHEK News.

“So we need to make sure British Columbians have the tools they need to help out someone in their time of distress.”

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Almost a week after the story of her death broke, the B.C. government is promising changes.

“We agreed to work collaboratively to roll out post-secondary overdose prevention actions to be in place in campuses across B.C. for the Fall 2024 semester,” said Beare. “This work will include distribution and standards for training for naloxone, including nasal naloxone.”

They’re some of the things Starko’s family called for in the wake of her death, alongside a coroner’s inquest to get answers, something B.C. Premier David Eby announced last week.

“There are serious questions that need to be answered about this horrific death,” said Eby in question period last week when he publicly announced the inquest.

Right now, naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication, is available for free in B.C., but only in injectable form. Other provinces like Ontario and Quebec have it as a nasal spray.

“It’s easier to use, especially under stress, rather than the inter-muscular, which uses a syringe,” said Sturko, a former RCMP officer familiar with how naloxone is applied.

It’s unclear if the province intends to make nasal naloxone free in B.C.

READ PREVIOUS: Family of 18-year-old who overdosed in UVic dorm says naloxone needs to be more available on B.C. campuses

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