Narcan’s vending machines are the latest weapon in the fight against opioid overdose

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The vending machine dispensing life-saving injections of Narcan represents the latest effort to fight a wave of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the country.

Across the U.S., cities including San Diego, Las Vegas and New York are setting up vending machines and lockers filled with nasal sprays containing naloxone, a drug that can be used in emergency overdose People on opioids (including fentanyl).

Commonly known as Narcan, the spray drug can bring someone back to the brink of death, instantly letting them breathe.

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“I’d say it’s very effective. It’s been viewed nearly 400 times since it was installed. I probably restock twice a week,” Charlie Nolan, a harm reduction expert with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, told Fox. new.

This Narcan sales locker was recently installed in front of the Blackwell Library in West Philadelphia. The city plans to install a second tower on Market Street later this year.
(Fox News)

The city agency recently installed a naloxone tower in front of the Blackwell Library on Philadelphia’s West Side.

“I think we’re reaching out to quite a few people who haven’t had access to it before, don’t know where to get it, or may not be comfortable talking to someone about getting it,” Nolan said.

The tower contains a total of 44 Narcan shots.

“I think getting naloxone into more people’s hands is very effective. »

Each of the 22 lockers contains a kit containing two doses of Narcan nasal spray, a mask for artificial respiration, gloves and a quick guide on how to give the injection.

Nolan said he frequently restocks the booth.

“We had a lot of people who filled out the questionnaire and they could answer that too,” he said. “I think getting naloxone into more people’s hands is very effective. »

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The tower has been visited nearly 400 times since it was installed in February this year.

Of those, nearly half of users completed an anonymous survey that collected their zip code, gender and ethnicity.

Andrew Best, director of public health, said the department could not determine how many of those doses were used to save someone from an overdose – but he believed the pilot program was working.

“People forget that people are overdosing at home,” Best told Fox News. “So access to this life-saving drug — which can be difficult to quantify, but we know individuals are accessing and using naloxone.”

Harm reduction specialists at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health help a woman obtain a kit containing two doses of Narcan nasal spray.

Harm reduction specialists at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health help a woman obtain a kit containing two doses of Narcan nasal spray.
(Fox News)

The locker pilot program is part of a larger plan to distribute the life-saving Narcan in a city hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis.

In 2020, the city recorded more than 1,200 drug overdose deaths. Data from city estimates will show growth in 2021.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health also offers harm reduction training on the use of fentanyl test strips and teaches people how to take Narcan shots in addition to detox treatment.

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“I think it’s very important because as we’ve seen the trends and what’s happening, we haven’t finalized the numbers for 2021, but we can already estimate [overdose deaths] Probably higher,” Best said.

“As soon as a guy hits B7, the kit falls off and he hits the road. »

“So, we want to make sure we make this life-saving drug as accessible as possible to all different populations and all different types of communities. »

Plans are already underway to install a second tower near the intersection of 60th and Market Streets, and the department hopes to install more if they continue to prove effective.

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According to a recent CDC report, more than 100,000 people will die from drug overdose in the U.S. in 2021 alone, and many cities across the country and others have been looking for easier access to life-saving Narcan to reduce those numbers by 2022.

In Michigan, Wayne State University is installing 15 machines across the state, including at its Detroit campus.

A program run by Wayne State University in Detroit has installed 15 machines across the state, including on its own campus.

A program run by Wayne State University in Detroit has installed 15 machines across the state, including on its own campus.
(Wayne State University)

The free kiosk is similar to a more traditional vending machine and can be accessed anonymously by anyone in need of an overdose reversal drug.

“For our program, it doesn’t require any payment or any kind of authentication for access,” Matt Costello, program manager at Wayne State University’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, told Fox News.

“The payment mechanism is disabled on all the machines we distribute. So a person just presses B7 and the kit drops and he moves on. »

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Costello said the plan was inspired by an initiative by the Los Angeles County Jail System, where vending machines filled with Narcan were installed.

“We hope to provide Narcan to the individual upon release,” Costello said.

“The data tells us that the risk of overdose after incarceration is very high. So we put eight of these machines in county jails and seven in community facilities, such as harm reduction agencies or other types of treatment facilities, where They can distribute Narcan more efficiently and easily. »

Wayne State University's Narcan vending machine program spans Michigan.

Wayne State University’s Narcan vending machine program spans Michigan.
(Wayne State University)

Wayne State University applied for a grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to purchase and install 20 additional machines statewide in October.

To date, Costello said, 15 machines across the state have dispensed more than 19,000 individual doses of Narcan.

“It’s never been as bad as it is today. Unfortunately, it could get worse before it gets better,” Jim Crotty, a former deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said in an interview with Fox News.

“This is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl, have contaminated the drug supply. It’s found in almost everything these days. That’s what’s driving the surge in overdose deaths. reason. “

“Of course, we don’t want to see more Americans die. »

He added: “We should be bombarding our cities with naloxone. That is the magnitude of this crisis. »

Crotty said he believes that while these vending machines can be effective in dispensing doses of Narcan to those in need, it can only provide a stopgap solution to the larger problem of addiction and abuse.

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“It’s definitely the quickest, easiest way we can do to try and reduce overdose mortality,” he said. “But again, this is just the first step towards solving the real problem, which is illicit drug use and trafficking. Vending machines and Narcan won’t do it for us. »

He also said: “The problem is really with the illegal drugs themselves. I think that’s where we should focus our attention. We certainly don’t want to see more Americans die. »



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