D.C. officials are planning to distribute 76,000 anti-overdose kits by the end of September to combat the ongoing opioid crisis in the city, according to a report in the Washington Post on April 1.
The distribution will increase the availability of the anti-overdose drug naloxone since the city had given out only about 2,400 kits in the last nine months of 2017, according to the report.
The kits will be distributed by community health organizations and police officers. The announcement was made on March 28 as part of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s updated plan to bring down deaths from opioid overdoses in the city.
The new plan, an updated version of an earlier one which was criticized for being ineffective, has set new deadlines and detailed specific measures to counter the drug overdoses. There’s also another plan in the works which is likely to be launched at the end of April. Emergency room treatment will be provided for recent overdose victims according to this plan. The initiative will be implemented first by MedStar Washington Hospital Center, United Medical Center, and Howard University Hospital.
Regina LaBelle, program director at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, stated that opioid use and overdose prevention policies must treat addiction as a health issue.
“Recognizing that addiction is a disease from which people can recover, our drug policies must be centered around compassion. Providing naloxone to community members and first responders is an important tool to save lives,” LaBelle told The Hoya.
From 2014 to 2017, the number of opioid overdose deaths in D.C. has more than tripled. LaBelle stated that the rise couldn’t be stopped by prompt services provided by emergency medical responders.
“It continues to be important, therefore, to get naloxone into the hands of as many people as possible, including law enforcement and community groups such as syringe exchange programs,” added LaBelle.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also working on an over-the-counter version of the drug which will further increase the accessibility of the drug for public use.