Friday, August 25, 2017

Aetna will distribute 720 doses of naloxone to first responders in N. Ky and Appalachia; at current rate of use, will last 4 months

Bevin demonstrates how to administer Narcan (State photo)
Gov. Matt Bevin demonstrated how to administer a life-saving drug that reverses opioid overdoses during the announcement of a partnership with health insurer Aetna Inc. that will distribute 720 doses of naloxone, often known by the brand name Narcan, to first responders in Northern Kentucky and Appalachia.

"We don't have the luxury of pretending there isn't a problem, and Aetna is helping us address this issue head on," Bevin said in the news release. "Every single life has value and is worth saving. It is up to all of us to work together and find real, long-lasting solutions."

The Aug. 23 announcement in Boone County and was largely attended by emergency medical technicians, firefighters and police officers from 15 different agencies, Scott Wartman reports for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“First responders are uniquely positioned to address the terrible effects of the opioid crisis—particularly in Kentucky, were overdose deaths increased significantly from 2015 to 2016,” Dr. Hal L. Paz, Aetna's executive vice president and chief medical officer, said in the release.

Wartman reports that 720 doses of naloxone should last about four months at the rate emergency rooms in the regions are seeing overdoses. A nurse with Northern Kentucky's St. Elizabeth Hospital told Bevin that in the first seven months of 2017, their emergency rooms treated 1,300 overdoses with naloxone.

Kentucky has the third highest rate of opioid overdose deaths per person. Last year, 1,404 Kentuckians died as a result of an opioid overdose, a 7.4 percent increase from 2015, according to a report from the state Office of Drug Control Policy.

In July, the state launched an awareness campaign called "Don't Let Them Die" to focus more attention on the opioid crisis and offer information on drug treatment and naloxone. The state has also distributed almost $1 million to 28 school districts statewide this year to support programs that focus on reducing drug, alcohol and tobacco use. These programs will target preschool through fourth grade.

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