A drug that fights the effects of heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone overdoses will be available free in pharmacies throughout Quebec as of Friday.

Health Minister Gaetan Barrette and Public Safety Minister Lucie Charlebois confirmed the news Thursday morning, two months after the provincial government announced it would cover the cost of naloxone.

Anyone over the age of 14 will be able to get the opioid antidote at any of the province’s 1,900 pharmacies. They will be asked to show a medicare card, but that can be skipped if the person is in the midst of a crisis.

Barrette said this is to ensure that people including the homeless population can access it. Those wanting it will be able to get up to eight doses. It should also allow family members, contacts, relatives of anyone in a problematic situation to have the drug on-hand.

“It’s about saving lives, it’s not about regulations. There has to be some form of regulations as always… but we have built in some exceptions that are obvious. So if there is any doubt, the medication will be provided for free,” he said.

The ministers are urging anyone who associates with people who are at risk of an overdose to get naloxone kits.

Community groups are also being told to pick up naloxone so that people will be able to intervene in the case of an overdose.

First responders at Urgences Sante already carry naloxone and there have been calls for Montreal police officers to carry it as well, but so far they don't – and neither do SQ officers.

They say they're not trained to use and are evaluating it.

The Quebec Order of Pharmacists was very involved in the roll-out of the program, which will cost the government $200,000.

President of the Order, Bertrand Bolduc, said there are no drawbacks.

“If you inject that, you or me, and we don’t really need it, it won’t do anything. So there’s no real side effects associated with the use of that product. Now, for people who would be overdosing, it’s a lifesaving drug, so we prefer largely that the people who could have a use for it have it, then the reverse,” he said. 

There have been 60 deaths in the province this year from opioids.

That pales in comparison to B.C., where new numbers came out Thursday showing there were over 1,100 in the first nine months of the year due to suspected illicit drug overdoses.

Fentanyl has been detected in about 83 per cent of the fatal overdoses this year, a jump of almost 150 per cent per cent over the same period last year in British Columbia.