MENU
component-ddb-728x90-v1-01-desktop

Reality Check: Why the state wants more people to have an opioid overdose reversal drug

Naloxone can bring somebody back from near death in seconds, and, with more than 12,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in North Carolina since 1999, state leaders want more people to have it. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Naloxone can bring somebody back from near death in seconds, and, with more than 12,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in North Carolina since 1999, state leaders want more people to have it.

In June 2016, the state health director signed a standing order to allow pharmacists to dispense Naloxone without a prescription. Most local pharmacies have it on hand, and it's available with almost no questions asked. A Madison County health professional usually has it on her.

"I typically have a Narcan (a Naloxone nasal spray) in my car, but I think I gave it away," Heather Sharp said, while News 13 rode around with her.

Sharp will go out of her way to get Naloxone for someone. She went as far as publishing her cell phone number and offering to meet people in public for delivery of the drug.

"We would rather you have it and never ever need to use it than need it and not," Sharp said.

Not as many people call as she'd like.

"It hasn't happened yet from a stranger," she said.

She can dispense Naloxone kits provided by the NC Harm Reduction Coalition and has distributed 83 kits of Naloxone since 2015. People can also get Naloxone at the Madison County Health Department building.

Sharp said people are reluctant to come to a government building to help stop opioid overdoses. That's why she started offering to drive and meet people.

"Our residents calling and saying I really need help with that. I haven't seen that, and so we recognize stigma is still a big concern," said Sharp.

She wants people to administer Nalozone and then call 911.

Buncombe County paramedics carry it on them, too.

"Daily," is how frequently Buncombe County EMS Operations Supervisor Roger Banks said people dispense the drug. Through June 2017, Buncombe EMS administered 433 Naloxone doses, almost double that same time period in 2016.

"It's an immediate fix. It's a great Band-Aid, but it's not a cure. And just because we can fix it this one time doesn't mean we'll be there the next time to fix it," said Banks.

Banks said too many people refuse medical service after paramedics reverse their overdoses. He warns it's possible to fall back into overdose after Naloxone wears off. Just in June, Buncombe County EMS administered 52 doses, more than once a day.

Some people think users rely on Naloxone as a safety net. A sheriff near Cincinnati refuses to have his deputies carry Narcan.

"The police job is to be the police," Butler County, Ohio, Sheriff Richard Jones said.

Buncombe County deputies started carrying Naloxone near the start of the year. Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan said reversing an overdose gives a person a chance to get treatment.

"It's just really hard-hearted to think that, too bad, they chose, they died. I don't ever imagine we'll have that kind of outlook with that situation," said Duncan.

Buncombe County pays $37.50 for a dose of Narcan. Asheville Police officers do not carry Naloxone, but an APD spokesperson said the department looking into it.

Under North Carolina's Good Samaritan law, people can call 911 to report an overdose without any risk of being arrested.


Trending