Data shows Arkansas is improving Narcan access

Data from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement shows, since 2017, opioid prescriptions...
Data from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement shows, since 2017, opioid prescriptions have decreased while opioid overdoses have increased statewide.(Jarvis Robertson)
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:08 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Arkansas has made progress in addressing the opioid overdose epidemic by expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement said Wednesday.

The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI) shows that 4,848 people received Naloxone prescriptions in 2021. It rose from 86 in the fiscal year 2017.

In 2017, licensed pharmacists in Arkansas became authorized to order, dispense, and administer naloxone to individuals without a prescription under a state protocol. Last year, Arkansas began requiring prescribers to co-prescribe naloxone in certain situations, such as when an individual has a high-dose opioid medication that may place them at risk of an overdose.

“To combat that, we’re trying to get physicians to have Narcan, the antidote to overdoses of opioids prescribed with those people who are on high dose opioids,” said Dr. Joe Thompson, President, and CEO of ACHI. So we’ve seen an increase in the number of people who get Narcan when they’re on opioid prescriptions.”

Firefighter EMTs in Harrison have been carrying Narcan nasal devices for four years and say it has proven to be a vital tool.

“We’ve been using it roughly four years. It’s one of those things. We use it more than we ever thought we would,” said Ron Lemley, EMS coordinator with Harrison Fire Department. “I have been with our crews and have administered it. It’s a life-changing experience for both sides.”

ACHI says despite opioid prescriptions seeing a decrease since 2017. Overdoses have continued to climb. In 2021, there were 496 opioid overdoses in Arkansas.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing the influx of illicit drugs such as fentanyl and others,” said Dr. Thompson. “So it’s not unreasonable to think you might find yourself in a situation with someone who is having an overdose and could benefit.”

ACHI suggests that anyone with friends or family struggling with addiction should keep a Narcan nasal device on them at all times.

CLICK HERE to see more information from the ACHI study.

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