Paramedics in Manitoba are now prepared to quickly administer an anti-psychosis drug, Olanzapine, to calm agitated methamphetamine users.

"Paramedics have seen first-hand how a person’s behaviour can quickly change when they’re using meth," Health Minister Cameron Friesen explains. "By granting paramedics the ability to administer Olanzapine, we are giving them another tool to protect their patients, themselves and others."

The new drug protocol, approved by the provincial Emergency Medical Services and Patient Transport Medical Advisory Committee, will come into effect in early December.

"Paramedics are often first on scene," says Helen Clark, Chief Operating Officer of emergency response services and chief allied health for Shared Health. "Giving them the option to use Olanzapine allows paramedics to help reduce the patient’s agitation, their risk of psychosis, and the risk of harming themselves or others."

Manitoba is the first jurisdiction in Canada to sanction the use of Olanzapine by paramedics, who provide oral disintegrating tablets to consenting patients following consultation with a supervisor. The practice is currently used in Australia.

"With rising concern around methamphetamine use and its associated psychosis and aggression, we are facing a time where critical action is required," says Dr. Ginette Poulin, medical director of the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM). "This enhanced protocol will be an important contribution to responding to the devastating effects of methamphetamine use and empower first responders safely support patients in distress."

The decision to expand the use of Olanzapine was welcomed by the Paramedic Association of Manitoba, which represents all licensed pre-hospital practitioners in the province.

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