A new public health order will authorize more nurses to prescribe safe alternatives to B.C.’s toxic drug supply.

It was issued by provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

The province’s highly toxic illegal drug supply is responsible for 175 fatal overdoses in July, the third consecutive month in which there were more than 170 suspected overdose deaths.

According to Dr. Henry, giving physicians and nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe safer pharmaceutical alternatives has been critical to saving lives and linking more people to treatment and other health and social services.

She says the latest provincial health officer order will “expand the health professionals who are able to provide safer, accessible alternatives to the toxic street drug supply and help more people find their pathway to hope.”

The order was issued under the Health Professions Act and authorizes registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe pharmaceutical alternatives to street drugs.

New nursing standards will be introduced, along with training and education, and access to expert consultation and pathways to connect people to broader addictions and primary care.