Warning there isn't enough lifesaving anti-overdose medication in New Zealand after another fentanyl hospitalisation

Another person has been hospitalised after overdosing on the deadly drug fentanyl.

It comes nearly a week after a dozen people overdosed in the Wairarapa and the Drug Foundation says they're all lucky to be alive.

The foundation claims there still isn't enough lifesaving antidote medication available in New Zealand for a spike in Fentanyl overdoses, but the Ministry of Health says there are no current supply issues.

People are buying white powder for a good time but getting the opposite.

Thirteen people have been hospitalised for overdosing on fentanyl - the latest just on Friday.

"That male consumed this substance and went unconscious, unresponsive, and was subsequently helicoptered to Palmerston North Hospital," said Detective Inspector Blair Macdonald, manager of the National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB).

Fentanyl is 50 times more lethal than heroin and has killed over 60,000 Americans. But so far - no one here.

"We are very lucky that that person has survived, in fact, all 13 cases have been very lucky to survive the overdose," said Drug Foundation executive director Sarah Helm.

Lucky - because they've been treated with an antidote called 'naloxone'.

"There's almost none of it in the country," Helm said. "Two of the barriers are around Medsafe and Pharmac with the naloxone access."

Naloxone is also used for other opioid overdoses like heroin and the Ministry of Health said we have enough supplies for 60 weeks at normal usage.

However, the Drug Foundation said that's not enough if fentanyl becomes more prevalent.

"We are concerned there could be more fentanyl that people purchased last weekend and may have available to them," Helm said.

Police believe all the overdose cases involved had the same supplier.

"So we haven't identified how it's got in the country, however we are following some strong lines of inquiry as to identifying the individual or individuals who are responsible for the supply," Det Insp Macdonald said.

It is legal to get your drugs checked - and the advice is to do just that. Another 7000 fentanyl testing kits are on their way to New Zealand and there are pop-up testing sites in Wairarapa and Wellington this week.

"A few specks can be the difference between an overdose or not," Helm said.

"If you bought a white powder last weekend in the Wairarapa - you must not use it," Det Insp Macdonald warned.

Because it could be deadly.

The Ministry of Health told Newshub it is working alongside the National Drug Intelligence Bureau (NDIB) and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand to closely monitor fentanyl incidence in the Wairarapa.

"Pharmac has reached out directly to Pfizer who supply the DBL brand of Naloxone which counters the impact of Fentanyl overdose. Pharmac has confirmed that supplies are strong (60 weeks stock on hand at normal usage) and there are no supply issues currently," the Ministry said in a statement. 

"As well as Ambulances and Hospital Emergency Department, Naloxone is also available for use in general practices, and urgent care clinics. As an extra precaution, frontline Police and heli-units in Masterton are also being supplied with Naloxone.

"Local prevention initiatives are underway as follows:

  • Fentanyl test strips are being shared amongst health providers to ensure there is local access in the Wairarapa (and elsewhere) at low or no cost.

  • The Masterton Needle Exchange is in the process of standing up a service to be able to take ‘walk ins’ for standalone Fentanyl testing.

"Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand has also approved funding for the NZ Drug Foundation to purchase 7000 additional fentanyl test strips."