(Salt Lake City, Utah) – In conjunction with International Overdose Awareness Day, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) released the results of a pilot project aimed at reducing the number of opioid overdose deaths in the state. The project known as the Opiate Overdose Outreach Pilot Program and funded by the Utah State Legislature has, to date, saved 46 lives.
The UDOH awarded more than $230,000 in one-time funding to 32 agencies to purchase and distribute naloxone kits and provide training on the proper administration of naloxone for individuals who are at risk for an opiate-related drug overdose event, as well as their family or friends. Naloxone is a safe and legal drug that can reverse heroin and prescription opioid overdoses by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and restoring breathing in minutes. There is no potential for abuse and side effects are rare.
Results from January 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017 showed:
- $236,037 was awarded to 17 law enforcement agencies, six local health departments, and nine direct service agencies.
- 3,111 naloxone kits were purchased.
- 1,967 naloxone kits were distributed.
- 1,599 individuals received a naloxone kit.
- 46 opioid overdose reversals were reported.
Several agencies which did not receive funding through the pilot program but participated in naloxone distribution efforts, voluntarily reported to the UDOH that during this same timeframe, an additional 1,244 naloxone kits were purchased; 1,183 naloxone kits were distributed; 648 individuals received a naloxone kit; and 25 lives were saved. Approximately 150 pharmacies also voluntarily participate in naloxone standing orders.
“We are very appreciative of the efforts by the Utah State Legislature to address the opioid crisis in our state,” said Joseph Miner, executive director of the UDOH. “The funding for the pilot program has been critical to ensuring access to naloxone for those at greatest risk of an overdose. Providing naloxone may mean the difference between life and death for those struggling with opioid addiction.”
During the 2016 General Session, the Utah State Legislature passed the Opiate Overdose Response Act which included the following House Bills (HB):
- HB 192: Opiate Overdose Outreach Pilot Program (Sponsored by Rep. McKell) created the Opiate Overdose Outreach Pilot Program within the UDOH and authorized the department to make grants through the program to persons who are in a position to assist an individual who is at increased risk of experiencing an opiate-related drug overdose event.
- HB 238: Overdose Outreach Providers (Sponsored by Rep. Spackman Moss) authorized an overdose outreach provider to furnish an opiate antagonist without civil liability and required an overdose outreach provider to furnish instruction on how to recognize and response appropriately to an opiate-related drug overdose event.
- HB 240: Standing Orders (Sponsored by Rep. Eliason) authorized the use of a standing prescription drug order issued by a physician to dispense an opioid antagonist.
While the number of prescription opioid overdose deaths decreased 12.4% from 2015 (n=274) to 2016 (n=240), the number of heroin overdose deaths increased by 15.5% (2015 n=129; 2016 n=149). Together, a 2.0% decrease in the number of overall opioid related deaths was observed from 2015 (n=414) to 2016 (n=406).
“We still have a long way to go in solving the issues around misuse, abuse, and overdose from opioids, but we are making progress. We have great support with partners at the state and local level as well as in the healthcare and private sectors,” said Angela Stander, spokesperson with the UDOH.
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