The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Governor Jared Polis recently allocated $1.8 million for the Naloxone Bulk Purchase Fund to expand naloxone access.
Naloxone is a life-saving treatment used to reverse an opioid overdose as it is happening. It helps keep someone experiencing an overdose stable while emergency professionals provide further care.
The new funding will allow for access to free naloxone to community-based organizations (CBOs), law enforcement agencies, harm reduction organizations, and schools.
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“It really equips first responders, harm reduction organizations, local public health organizations, school districts, and other key prevention partners across the state with access to naloxone,” said Andrés Guerrero, overdose prevention unit manager at CDPHE.
Guerrero said the added funding would address the high demand of the naloxone from organizations that need it. “The demands of [the fund] were outstripping the availability of the fund,” he said. “This $1.8 million is definitely going to help.”
With more naloxone available for purchase by the eligible organizations, they can distribute more of the treatment out to various communities where drug use occurs. This distribution tactic ensures that even those who have recovered can have access to naloxone if someone close to them is having an overdose.
For example, law enforcement agencies will have naloxone while on patrol and give it to people they encounter who are known to have a substance abuse problem. Guerrero said:
“It is important that we catch folks of all areas of drug use so we can work on prevention and on folks who are currently using.”
Guerrero said more naloxone in the community will lead to less overdose deaths in the short and long term.
Currently, the fund has no sustainable or ongoing funding streams. Their funds typically come from investments from the legislature and federal grants. Because of this, the fund often does not have the necessary funding to supply naloxone to organizations who are asking for assistance.
However, Guerrero said all orders eventually end up filled once funding comes in. He said, “Those folks may have to wait a few weeks longer, but they will always get what they ordered. We just need the time to put the new funding in place.”