Expanding access to Naloxone

Source: Governor.NY.Gov

Governor Kathy Hochul emphasized the accessibility of naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, a medication that can reverse the effects of drug overdoses from substances like heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids. Starting this month, major pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Rite Aid will carry the medication both online and in stores. Naloxone has been available for non-medical personnel to prevent overdoses in New York State since 2006, and its availability has increased since August 2022 due to a statewide pharmacy standing order. While not all naloxone administrations are reported, the NYSDOH has received reports of over 35,000 administrations at this time.

Governor Hochul stated, “The opioid and overdose epidemic has affected too many New Yorkers. Alongside harm reduction, prevention, and treatment support programs, the expanded availability of Narcan has saved lives throughout New York State, and making it accessible over-the-counter will save even more. We will continue to allocate state resources to effectively and compassionately address the overdose epidemic.”

Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS), expressed the need to reverse the alarming trend of overdose deaths. Naloxone has already prevented thousands of deaths in New York State, and increased access to this safe and effective medication will save even more lives. Greater availability of naloxone is crucial in supporting those impacted by addiction.

Dr. James McDonald, New York State Health Commissioner, highlighted the importance of easy accessibility to naloxone and treatment programs in combating opioid use disorder. Governor Hochul, the State Health Department, and Dr. McDonald will continue to address this critical issue with compassion and determination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an estimated 110,000 fatalities from drug overdoses this summer, consistent with recent increases. New York State has secured over $2 billion through settlement agreements with opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, with a portion of the funding going directly to municipalities and the rest deposited into a dedicated fund to support prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery efforts. The Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board manages these efforts.

Furthermore, the New York State Interagency Task Force on Overdose Prevention recently held its first meeting. Led by Commissioners Dr. Chinazo Cunningham and Dr. James McDonald, the multi-agency group will provide recommendations to enhance programmatic coordination, evaluate the success of existing state programs, and explore additional solutions to the opioid crisis.

New York State has implemented a comprehensive approach to address the overdose epidemic, establishing a leading continuum of addiction care that includes prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, the state has expanded access to traditional services, including harm reduction and crisis services, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, and mobile treatment and transportation services.

The New York State Department of Health offers over 1,000 registered programs where individuals can receive training on obtaining and administering naloxone at no cost. More information on the department’s overdose programs can be found on their website.

Free naloxone, as well as fentanyl and xylazine test strips, can be ordered through a new portal on the OASAS website. The agency also provides free virtual naloxone training.

New Yorkers struggling with addiction, or those with loved ones who are struggling, can seek help and hope by calling the state’s toll-free HOPEline or texting HOPENY. The NYS OASAS Treatment Availability Dashboard and website can be used to find available addiction treatment options, including crisis/detox, inpatient, residential, or outpatient care.

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