60 vital Narcan will be donated to MiraVista
HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Lifesaving Narcan is being donated to MiraVista Behavioral Health Center to help reduce opioid-related overdose deaths in Hampden County. According to a press release from MiraVista, the opioid-related death rate in 2021 increased by 9% compared to 2020. In 2021, there were a total of 211 opioid-related overdose deaths.
The number of opioid deaths in 2021 in select cities in western Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
- Holyoke – 23
- West Springfield – 15
A significant chapter of 2018 legislation that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose of life-saving opioids.
A statewide standing order allowed pharmacies to dispense the drug, brand names of which include Narcan, without a prescription at a time when the Commonwealth was facing an opioid overdose crisis. The drug is available under the brand name Narcan, but does not require a prescription for anyone at risk of overdose or for someone who can help. Previously, only properly trained public safety responders could distribute naloxone kits.
Following the first pilot program to distribute naloxone during an overdose in 2007, the state expanded access to the drug, which saved thousands of lives. Naloxone nasal spray kits remain a key part of the state’s harm reduction program.
Delivery of 60 naloxone kits will be made to MiraVista Behavioral Health Center at 1233 Main Street, Holyoke at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 22. To ensure that patients and staff have access to the vital properties of Narcan, Springfield Pharmacy covers the cost of the kits, which represents a commitment of nearly $3,000.
“The standing order allows us to dispense naloxone with or without a prescription to anyone at risk of an opioid-related overdose,” said Alex Wu, director and co-owner of Springfield Pharmacy. “It also allows naloxone to be dispensed to family members, friends or anyone who might be able to help someone at risk of an overdose.”
Wu said that as an opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone, when given, “displaces opioids from these receptors and reverses their effects.”
“Naloxone has no abuse potential because it is an antagonist and prevents activation of the body’s opioid receptors,” Wu said. “Since these receptors are not activated, the euphoric effects that can be seen with opioid abuse are never achieved.”
Wu said the relief kits come “with two doses of naloxone given nasally,” he said. “A single, one-dose spray is instilled into one nostril which can be repeated after 2-3 minutes if there is no response or if the response is minimal,” Wu said.
“911 should still be called because often the duration of action of the opioid will be longer than that of naloxone,” he added. “The first dose of naloxone should be given, followed by an immediate phone call to 911,” Wu said. “Then, if needed, the second dose of naloxone can be given.”
He says fentanyl is increasingly being mixed up with illicit drugs because of its low cost and the continued rise in overdose deaths. “Fentanyl is a very potent synthetic opioid,” Wu said. “For this reason, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to reverse an overdose.”
Springfield Pharmacy “donated the costs associated with the 60 Naloxone nasal kits to increase accessibility of the drugs to those who may need them,” he said. “Due to the nature of recovery and addiction, it’s very difficult to anticipate a relapse,” Wu said. “We all have to do our part to help support the individual and make sure they have access to treatment.”