Health officials West Virginia have concluded plans to distribute over 8,000 opioid antidote kits to emergency medical personnel and other first responders in order to reduce deaths associated with opioid overdose in the state. The drug Naloxone is the opioid antidote of choice.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health explained that Naloxone is capable of saving lives and reviving opioid overdose victims if administered in time since it effectively opens up the respiratory airway and instantly reverses the effects of opioid overdose damage. Victims can start breathing almost immediately again it is administered if done timely.
The funding for the 8,000 Naloxone drug kits is $1 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment. The initiative is a collaboration between the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and the Bureau for Public Health (BPH). Implementation and evaluation of the project will be done by Injury Control Research Center of West Virginia University.
West Virginia ranks no.1 for drug overdose deaths in the US
West Virginia has the highest number of drug overdose deaths in the United States, CBS News reports. In 2015, the state recorded 725 overdose deaths which translates to 41.5 deaths in 100,000 people. Dr. Gupta said the trends show the levels of deaths associated with opioid overuse has not peaked and that the data for 2016 may be higher given recorded toxicology results.
But he added that with the drive for 8,000 opioid antidote kits to be given, the staggering overdose statistics may be drastically reduced in West Virginia. To buttress this, Naloxone was administered to 4,186 overdose victims in 2016 as against the 3,351 doses administered in 2015 and the 2,165 doses given in 2014 - not including those given by hospital emergency units, first responders and others.
Price of Naloxone has spiked due to huge demands
Considering the fact that health officials will be sending over 4,000 Naloxone to high priority areas of the state, a recent study reveals that the price of the two-dose antidote has climbed due to huge demands. There are palpable fears that the antidote package may reach $4,500 in no time, which is actually a 500% increase over a two-year period.
But be that as it may, the deputy director of West Virginia's Bureau of Public Health, Herb Linn, has revealed that his agency is set to get the opioid antidote into nearly the hands of everyone that would need it to save lives. These include first responders to drug overdose, possible witnesses of opioid overdose, emergency caregivers, family and friends of drug addicts, and emergency medical personnel among others, The Register Herald wrote.