The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health was awarded a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) that will allow the department to distribute naloxone kits to community agencies in an effort to help prevent fatal opioid overdoses. The kits contain naloxone hydrochloride, a non-narcotic medication that reverses the life-threatening respiratory failure that is usually the cause of overdose deaths. Naloxone is also known by the trade name Narcan®.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health will be training and distributing the naloxone kits to the Fort Wayne Police Department, New Haven Police Department, New Haven EMS, Allen County Adult Probation, Allen County Public Library, and the Allen County Syringe Services Program.

"It's so important for our first responders and community organizations to be equipped with this life-saving medication," said Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, "It's important for them to have easy access to this and be trained on how to administer it. After all, it saves lives!"

In 2016, 68 people in Allen County died of drug overdose, while 804 people sustained nonfatal overdoses in our community. Provisional ISDH data shows in 2016, 1,271 Hoosiers died of drug poisoning, and nearly 8,300 people visited Indiana emergency departments due to nonfatal opioid overdoses.

Anyone in need of naloxone can request it from a registered entity using a statewide standing order signed on September 5, 2017 by Jennifer D.H. Walthall, MD, MPH, Director of FSSA, after Dr. Jerome Adams, former Indiana State Health Commissioner, took his new position as United States Surgeon General. Individuals don't need a prescription from a private healthcare provider as long as they're requesting naloxone from an entity registered at www.optIN.in.gov.

Naloxone is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has been used for more than 40 years by emergency medical services personnel to reverse opioid overdose and revive people who might have died without treatment. It is not addictive, and although it is only effective at reversing overdoses of opioid drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers, it is not harmful if administered to someone who has not taken opioids.

For information on treatment for substance use disorder, visit the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration's Division of Mental Health and Addiction website at http://www.in.gov/fssa/dmha. The grant from ISDH was made possible thanks to a partnership with FSSA and used funding from the 21st Century Cures Grant.