Indiana Attorney General Launches Naloxone Kit Program

INDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Greg Zoeller unveiled a new grant program Thursday aimed at equipping more first responders with naloxone kits – a drug that can halt opioid overdose.

“We can’t just sit by and watch people die,” he said.

The program is funded by a recent pharmaceutical settlement, and the initial wave of funding is set at $100,000.

In all, Zoeller said $1.3 million from the settlement has been set aside for Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. If the demand is higher than the initial grant, more will be allotted to the kits.

First responders including police, firefighters and paramedics are now regularly carrying naloxone hydrochloride, better known as Narcan, to combat opioid and heroin overdose.

While an IV version of the drug has been on ambulances for years, firefighters are in many instances the first to arrive on the scene of medical calls. The nasal version of the drug allows them to get it into the system of someone going through a heroin overdose in about a minute and a half after arrival. Intravenously, it can take at least eight minutes.

Zoeller announced the new program at his sixth annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium.

He said the task force’s work on reducing prescription drug abuse has led directly to a rise in heroin overdose deaths instead. He expects a crest to the wave of heroin problems in the next year as new prescription treatment guidelines go into effect.

The new grant will help triage the immediate problem of saving people, who can then move to rehab.

“We can’t treat people if they’re dead,” he said.

To date, 55 law enforcement agencies across the state have been trained and equipped with naloxone. There are about 480 agencies statewide.

At least 165 lives have been saved by law enforcement administering the antidote, Zoeller said.

Nonprofits registered with the Indiana State Department of Health to distribute naloxone kits and provide training on the use to law enforcement, and other first responders can apply for the grant funding.

Applications are being accepted through Dec. 1. For more information, go to www.bitterpill.in.gov and go to the harm reduction section.

nkelly@jg.net

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