New data shows spike in opioid deaths in Ontario, pharmacies to offer free naloxone spray

New government data shows a spike in opioid-related deaths in Ontario for much of last year compared to 2016.

The province says there were 1,053 opioid-related deaths from January to October 2017, compared with 694 during the same time period in 2016.

It also says there were there were 7,658 emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses from January to October of last year, up from 4,453 during the same time period the previous year.

The new figures are being released as the government says Ontario pharmacies are providing another version of an overdose-reversing drug for free.

Naloxone nasal spray is now available at no charge in addition to existing naloxone kits, which include an injectable version of the drug meant as an emergency treatment for opioid overdoses.

The Ontario government has pledged to spend more than $222 million over three years to tackle the growing opioid crisis in the province, with money earmarked to expand harm reduction services and hiring more frontline staff.

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