The Baker-Polito Administration today announced it is providing $100,000 in naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, to 10 community health centers as part of increasing public awareness about the important role of the overdose reversal drug in saving lives.
“The opioid crisis has broken many families across the Commonwealth and our administration remains committed to providing resources to our communities to curb this public health epidemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Expanding access to naloxone for health care workers on the front lines of this epidemic is a valuable tool and we are pleased to award these grants to strengthen services at community health centers in Massachusetts.”
The 10 community health centers, selected because of their involvement in the GE Foundation’s SUSTAIN (Substance Use Support & Technical Assistance in Communities) initiative that support efforts to prevent and treat substance use disorders in local communities, are Boston Healthcare for the Homeless; Brockton Health Center; Caring Health Center in Springfield; Codman Square Health Center; Community Health Center of Cape Cod; Dorchester House; East Boston Neighborhood Health Center; Lowell Community Health Center; Mattapan Health Center; and the South End Health Center. Each will receive 260 doses of naloxone available to patients through their pharmacies or through their primary care providers.
“The more people who administer naloxone the better our chances of reducing the magnitude and severity of harm related to opioid overdose deaths,’’ said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “By making naloxone as widely available as possible, we can save more lives and provide opportunities for treatment and recovery.’’
Last year, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) reported more than 2,800 bystander overdose reversals using naloxone. More than 13,000 people were trained and provided naloxone in 2016, pushing the total number of people trained statewide to more than 56,000. DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, whose naloxone budget was $2.8 million in Fiscal Year 2017, has provided naloxone grants to 32 high-need communities. Since the Commonwealth launched the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchasing Program, 140 cities and towns have purchased more than 12,000 doses of naloxone at a significant discount.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to stem the tide of overdose deaths in Massachusetts,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “This initiative reflects an exceptional level of inter-governmental coordination and public-private partnership that are vital to successful community engagement in eliminating the opioid crisis.”
The new naloxone funding coincides with the debut of an updated statewide public information campaign targeting people who use opioids, as well as their families and friends. The campaign encourages people to carry and use naloxone at the first signs of an overdose and to call 911 for help.
The campaign will appear on billboards, trash kiosks, bus shelters, and in convenience stores and public bathrooms, as well on digital and social media platforms. It will run through the end of July.
Last month, DPH released its first quarterly opioid report of 2017, which showed an increase in opioid-related overdose deaths attributed to fentanyl and declines in the presence of heroin and prescription opioids in opioid-related deaths.