Opioid deaths drop in Alberta, provincial data indicates
The Alberta government says it is "cautiously optimistic" about new numbers on the province's opioid-related overdose deaths released this week.
Associate Minister of Mental Health and Wellness Mike Ellis announced Wednesday that there were 113 opioid-related deaths in Alberta in April, seven per cent lower than in March and 34 per cent lower than the province's peak in November 2021.
Ellis says the data comes as the province is continuing in its efforts for treatment and recovery for Albertans who are addicted to opioids.
"This includes funding more treatment spaces, breaking down financial barriers to treatment and creating a collaborative, seamless system that benefits all Albertans who need help," he said.
"We are also supporting harm reduction initiatives like the Digital Overdose Response System, a mobile app that provides emergency medical response to anyone who overdoses while using alone that is now available province wide."
The statistics are also being released after news of a $150 million settlement from Purdue Pharma Canada, the manufacturer of opioid-based pain medication, with all of Canada's provinces and territories.
The B.C.-based lawsuit was launched in 2018 against more than 40 drug companies with the goal of recovering health-care costs.
British Columbia Attorney General David Eby called it the largest settlement of a government health-care cost claim in Canadian history.
He added the money will be put toward programs created to fight the opioid epidemic.
While there are no details on how much of the settlement money will come to Alberta, Eliis said the province remains in a "crisis."
"We support this proposed settlement and will continue to cooperate with Purdue Canada in the months to come," he said in a statement.
"The roots of the crisis began years ago, with the high rate of opioid prescriptions for acute and chronic pain. Many of these drugs were diverted into our communities, ending up in the hands of people who would later suffer from addiction."
Ellis says the goverment's goal continues to be to offer Albertans with addictions an opportunity to recover.
(With files from The Canadian Press)