In particular, Hamilton County Public Health has been leading the nation’s largest effort to distribute take-home naloxone, the life-saving antidote to opioid overdose. Supported in part by a large charitable donation from Emergent BioSolutions, and in partnership with multiple community-based organizations and all major regional health systems known as the Narcan Distribution Collaborative (NDC), Hamilton County was able to distribute nearly 25,000 doses of NARCAN (Naloxone HCL) Nasal Spray 4mg in approximately one year’s time.
This program contributed to an increase of 674% in take-home naloxone; this is likely to have contributed recent changes in community statistics. The NDC program launched October 1, 2017. Compared with the 8 months prior to the NDC, the subsequent 8 months had significantly fewer overdose-related incidents in Hamilton County:
- 42 percent reduction of emergency department visits,
- 37 percent reduction of EMS runs,
- 31 percent reduction of opioid overdose deaths.
The NDC also frequently provides Narcan to individuals from surrounding counties. Across multiple Ohio counties in Greater Cincinnati that received NARCAN from the NDC, opioid overdose deaths fell by 28 percent, following the start of the NDC.
“The opioid epidemic is a national problem, and our county is severely affected,” said Tim Ingram, Health Commissioner of Hamilton County Public Health. “Based on these initial results, we are optimistic that we are making progress in our fight against the epidemic. We are committed to continuing to work to reduce potential harm from opioids in our community.”
The NDC has been working to expand NARCAN Nasal Spray to as many points of population access as possible. One important distribution method was a syringe exchange mobile unit, managed by Hamilton County Public Health. Dozens of other locations included community health fairs, hospital emergency departments, substance use disorder treatment centers, the Hamilton County Justice Center, social service agencies, and many more.
A more comprehensive evaluation of the program is ongoing, led by Shawn Ryan, MD, MBA, ABEM, ABAM, President and Chief Medical Officer of Brightview Health, and investigators of the University of Cincinnati.
“NARCAN is able to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose if administered in time,” said Dr. Ryan. “These data suggest that increased access to NARCAN, in combination with increased awareness and immediate access to treatment for opioid use disorder, can significantly reduce the negative impact opioid overdoses can have on a community.”
“We are quite pleased with the initial results of the NDC effort,” said Dr. Michael Lyons, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of the Early Intervention Program at the University of Cincinnati. “As a result of the success of the program so far, our health department has received an additional 12,000 doses of NARCAN from Emergent BioSolutions. We look forward to continuing to activate our local community against the opioid epidemic.”