UNT Health Science Center has launched a large-scale opioid overdose reversal drug distribution and training.
Marking the launch of the program, community members gathered Tuesday at UNTHSC to witness about a dozen students inform and demonstrate effective techniques to save lives in case of an opioid overdose incident.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 1,500 Texans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017. Across the nation, more than 130 people die from opioids overdose every day.
UNTHSC wants to help lower those tragic statistics significantly down.
The health care university has started distributing 9,000 doses of the opioid overdose reversal drug Naloxone and providing training to administer the medicine.
When administered quickly to someone suffering an opioid overdose, Naloxone binds itself to a person’s receptors to reverse and block the effects of opioids.
Through a grant, the state-funded Texas Targeted Opioid Response project had awarded UNTHSC 4,5000 cartridges of Narcan, a brand product containing two doses of Naloxone. The drug is applied nasally.
“But it’s important to help train people,” Williams said. “We’re training our students, our faculty and staff. So 4,500 here. And they will look and go into the community and train others. They can identify opioid overdoses when they’re occurring and as well take immediate response even before official first-responders can even get there.”
UNTHSC is partnering with local organizations Perrone Pharmacy and Thrive Pharmacy Solution to distribute the medicine and offer training to more areas.
The medicine will also be available in a new pharmacy, scheduled to open on the UNTHSC campus in the Health Pavilion later this year.
UNTHSC plans to work with the Fort Worth Fire Department to make Naloxone more accessible. Partnership plans also include MedStar Health among other local partners, in support of a continued long-term program.
The Fort Worth Police Department already do carry Naloxone in many of their police vehicles.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does advocate the use of Naloxone for opioid overdose. The U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams even released an advisory emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug.
Rear Admiral Sylvia Trent-Adams, Principal Deputy Assistant for U.S. Secretary for Health, joined in the UNTHSC event on Tuesday to discuss Naloxone and the efforts made to avoid preventable deaths from opioid overdoses.
“The federal government cannot solve this problem alone,” Trent-Adams said. “It will take every last one of us in this room, as well as communities across the country to solve this problem.”
She added: “Only by working together will we be able to fight this public health crisis.”