Sep 27, 2015 9:42 AM
Growing need for Narcan shows scope of drug overdose epidemic
MANCHESTER - New Hampshire has seen 232 fatal drug overdoses so far this year with the vast majority - 211 of them - involving opiates, most commonly fentanyl, heroin or a combination of the two, according to the Chief Medical Examiner's Office.
But, as the Union Leader reports, it's the naloxone numbers that show the real scope of the epidemic.
Emergency medical responders have administered more than 2,800 doses of the overdose-reversal drug in the first eight months of this year, according to state data.
In one six-hour period last week, naloxone, which goes by the brand name Narcan, was used to revive six overdose victims in Manchester alone.
Now the state is about to unveil new initiatives to make the drug more widely available to addicts, their families and friends.
On Tuesday, Gov. Maggie Hassan and other state officials will announce plans to distribute 4,500 naloxone kits for free to law enforcement agencies, emergency rooms, community health centers and community groups.
Jake Leon, director of communications for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the department plans a series of sessions “to train the trainers.”
“Once that's in place, concerned citizens can then go to these organizations that have the inventory, get trained themselves on how to administer the naloxone and then take it with them,” he said.
Meanwhile, pharmacies across New Hampshire are also gearing up to provide Narcan to customers.
Leon said with that new protocol in place, individuals who want to have Narcan on hand will have options. “They can go to a pharmacy where there is a standing order already established, or they can go to a provider who will give them a prescription they can then take to the pharmacy to get filled.”
Dr. Seddon Savage, director of the Dartmouth Center on Addiction, Recovery and Education co-chairs a task force on opioid addiction and has heard the concern that making Narcan more available could encourage some to try heroin, or use more, without fear of dying from an overdose. She said that may happen.
“That's really regrettable, but I think on balance, more lives are going to be saved.”