May 2, 2017
More than 2,800 naloxone kits, the temporary antidote to opioid overdose, will be distributed to a variety of agencies statewide in an effort to get more kits of the drug into the hands of law enforcement and first responders.
The Tennessee High Patrol will be receiving 900 kits, and every state trooper will receive one, said Major Michael McAllister. The kits include nasal injections of naloxone, which widens the window for the person to get medical care. The naloxone is being purchased through a $250,000 grant from from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. McAllister said it’s the first time that every trooper will have a kit.
“It’s becoming a bigger problem every day,” said McAllister. “So far we’ve not had access to (naloxone). It’s the first time … that we’ve been able to purchase something without having to turn to the state to ask them to pay for it.”
The nasal injections will be beneficial for troopers who are responding to overdose situations, as well as provide protection for officers who are searching cars and may come into contact with potent street opioid drugs that cause harm. The nasal injects can also be used to treat K-9 officers who come into contact with harmful opioids.
The other kits will be distributed among other agencies around the state. Naloxone will be present in all 95 counties through the Highway Patrol grant.
House Speaker Beth Harwell convened a task force this legislative session to look at the causes, and potential solutions, for the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic. At least 1,451 Tennesseans died from overdose in 2015 the highest number on record.
Harwell expects the task force to continue to meet once the session ends this month.
Read more in the Tennessean.
Holly Fletcher covers health care for the Tennessean’s business desk, working to explain how the changing health care landscape will impact the people who need health care (everyone) and the businesses that provide care.