BOSTON — The Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced grant awards to 23 communities across Massachusetts to help first responders save lives by providing funding for opioid overdose response training and naloxone units that can be used to reverse overdoses.
Police and fire departments in communities with high incidences of fatal opioid overdoses will share in $600,000 in funding under the pilot program, which was included in the FY15 budget signed by Governor Deval Patrick. “We have made strong progress addressing this epidemic in our communities by increasing access to treatment and life-saving naloxone,” said Governor Patrick. “By partnering with our first responders in cities and towns, we can keep this progress going for years to come.”
Communities receiving grants includes: Barnstable, Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Fitchburg, Framingham, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lowell, Lynn, Malden, New Bedford, Quincy, Revere, Saugus, Somerville, Stoughton, Taunton, Weymouth, Winthrop and Worcester.
Dramatic Increase in Naloxone Enrollment and Reversals under Emergency Order
The number of overdose reversals under the DPH Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Program have increased dramatically since Governor Patrick declared a public health emergency March 27, 2014, and made naloxone more widely available to first responders and bystanders.
- During the spring and summer of 2014, the average number of Massachusetts residents in opioid treatment programs increased by nearly 1,000, or almost 6 percent, showing that more people are getting the treatment they need.
- During the spring and summer of 2014, nearly 700 opioid reversals were reported thanks to bystanders using nasal naloxone; double the number during the same period of the previous year.
- During a similar time period, nearly 7,000 new bystanders enrolled in the Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution program, an increase of nearly 30 percent.
The DPH naloxone program began in 2007 allowing bystanders to receive information on overdose education and receive naloxone free of charge. Since 2007, the program has recorded nearly 3,800 reversals.
“Many police and fire departments have already equipped their first responders with naloxone rescue kits, but the costs can be prohibitive,” said Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, RN. “This expansion will help 23 communities add or maintain these life-saving measures.”
“Just this past weekend in Plymouth, we had six overdoses. Two people did not survive, but the four that did lived because they were treated with naloxone,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “This just shows that ability for first responders to have naloxone when responding to overdoses will save lives. This is one weapon in our fight to turn the tide of addiction and get people the help they need before they become a statistic.”
“Like many others who have seen the toll of opioid abuse first-hand, I’m proud to see the steps we took in our budget to address the alarming crisis of substance use-related deaths being implemented,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “This pilot program, paired with our comprehensive substance abuse law, will save lives and help those suffering from addiction to build bright futures.”
Kaléo Donates 4,000 Naloxone Auto Injectors to First Responders
In addition to the naloxone grants from the state, kaléo, a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, has offered 4,000 naloxone auto injectors at no cost to the Commonwealth to help supply first responders. Kaléo’s new auto injector, EVZIO, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April for use in opioid overdose reversals.
“We are pleased to make this donation of EVZIO to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a part of our commitment to widen access to naloxone,” said T. Spencer Williamson, CEO of kaléo. “We are honored to support the outstanding efforts of the public safety community across the state to help save the lives of those who are experiencing an opioid overdose.”
“This is another great example of how the bioscience industry is working hard to tackle the top public health challenges in the United States,” said Robert K. Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. “We are proud that one of our member companies, kaléo, is making this important donation to the people of Massachusetts.”