CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thirty-four thousand doses of the overdose reversing drug naloxone are heading out to first responders in West Virginia, the state DHHR announced Tuesday.
The supply, which cost $1 million, is part of a new state law proposed by Gov. Jim Justice and passed by lawmakers in this year’s regular legislative session.
The naloxone will save lives, state Chief Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta said.
“When you live in rural communities oftentimes it is critical to buy that 20 minutes of time so you can save a life. This is not a solution for the opioid problem but it is one very important step,” Gupta told MetroNews Tuesday.
Gupta broke down the distribution in a news release.
“The plan is to distribute 22 percent (7,800) of the doses to the West Virginia State Police (WVSP), 24 percent (8,200) to the State Fire Marshall’s Office (WVFM) for fire departments and 29 percent (10,000) to support EMS response across the state. Additionally, eight high priority counties including Berkeley, Cabell, Harrison, Kanawha, Mercer, Monongalia, Ohio, and Raleigh will each receive 1,000 doses of naloxone.” he said.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a recall of the naloxone brand Hospira, but that’s not the brand that’s being distributed in West Virginia, which is Amphastar, Gupta said.
“That makes it even more critical because the recall of the other drugs may cause some critical shortages in communities across the state. So it’s important that this drug for a replacement gets out there,” Gupta said.
The distribution is expected to be completed by June 30.
“Only when you are alive do you have a chance to get into treatment and recovery,” Gupta said. “For our people to get treatment, get recovery, it’s critical that we save them from dying in an overdose situation and that’s why this is critical.”
According to the DHHR, the naloxone kits include a 2mg naloxone syringe and atomizer. The legislature allocated the funding for the kits through the state Office of Drug Control Policy.