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Winnipeg organizations say they are running low on naloxone kits

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Community organizations handing out naloxone kits say they are running low, but the province says the issue isn't because of access to the drug.

The province told CTV News it is transitioning to a new supplier for the kits and the back orders have to do with a brief supply issue which has delayed shipping.

Oliver Munroe and his partner make sure to always carry naloxone.

"It could be anywhere, Polo Park, St. Vital. Something is going to happen and you're there to respond really quickly, because we know how it is when people (overdose)," said Munroe.

Naloxone is used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, but Munroe said it has been hard to find lately.

"We phoned everywhere, different places. We Googled it to see where they are free."

Resource Assistance for Youth (RAY) typically gets 400 kits to give out for free each month. At the moment, they have about 60 left.

Breda Vosters, the director of grants and information for RAY, said the organization is rationing because its next order from the province's take-home naloxone program isn't expected until next week or the week after.

"But we can go through 60 kits in a day. So what that means for us is that we are going to hit a point where we can't supply anymore of these kits and what that means for substance users is that their risk of deadly overdose is going to skyrocket," said Vosters.

Vosters said RAY isn't the only community group that is short, noting summer is a time where drug use is up.

"There is no bad time for a shortage in supply, but now is a very bad time."

In a statement to CTV News, the province said there is no shortage of naloxone itself, but there is procurement and supply chain issues with different components of the kit.

"Manitoba Health is expecting supply to start arriving this week and over the next several weeks to help fulfil any back orders and anticipated future orders," a spokesperson said in an email.

Vosters said RAY relies on the provincial program, but would also like to see more action on overdose prevention like safe injection sites and clean supply.

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