Free naloxone kits to help reverse opioid overdoses will soon be available to the community through a partnership between the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.
The kits will be distributed 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays in the Dr. Rice C. Leach Community Room at the health department’s main location at 650 Newtown Pike. The kits will be provided as part of the health department’s needle-exchange program and will be available to participants, family and friends.
“Our clients at the needle-exchange are some of the people at the highest risk for potential overdoses,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh. Since opening Sept. 5, 2015, the health department’s needle-exchange has provided clean needles to 1,849 individuals, with 106 using the on-site referral program to enter rehabilitative programs.
Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan®, blocks opiate receptors in the brain, works in 1-3 minute and lasts 30-90 minutes. It can cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and disorientation, but there is no risk for abuse or addiction.
“The Lexington Fayette-County Health Department and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health have a shared goal in the fight against drug overdose: to save lives in our community,” said Dr. Svetla Slavova, principal investigator for the grant and associate professor in the UK College of Public Health Department of Biostatistics. She is also a faculty member with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
“We are thankful that the Bureau of Justice Assistance allowed the redirect of savings on our grant for the purchase of 1,236 Narcan® kits,” Slavova said. “This partnership between government agencies, the university, and KIPRC, bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, is one way we hope to turn the tide of overdose fatalities in Kentucky.’
The purchase of Narcan® was supported by a grant 2014-PM-BX-0010 (Data-Driven Multidisciplinary Approaches to Reducing Prescription Abuse in Kentucky) awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.