Douglas County Commission approves plan to boost access to opioid overdose reversal drug

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Douglas County commissioners on Wednesday signed off on a plan for Lawrence-based nonprofit DCCCA to increase distribution of Narcan, the lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drug, throughout the county.

The FDA-approved, over-the-counter nasal treatment blocks the effects of opiates on the brain and restores breathing. It’s effective against all opiates — heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, and similar prescription and street drugs — although some overdoses may take multiple naloxone doses to reverse. There is also an injectable version of naloxone.

In March, the commission held off on approving an earlier version of the plan. Commissioners voiced general support, but there was some confusion about what specifically the commission was considering funding, and what it would cost. DCCCA presented a new plan to the commission on Wednesday.

The new plan, to cost about $59,000 out of the county’s opioid settlement funds in the initiative’s first year, calls for ONEbox devices in five locations throughout the county, including libraries, restaurants and recreation centers in Baldwin, Eudora and Lawrence, according to information provided in the meeting agenda. The devices contain a nasal naloxone kit and a brief training video, and they come from the Drug Intervention Institute, a nonprofit based in West Virginia.

DCCCA will also place a Narcan vending machine in a central location to be determined in Lawrence, which will allow for 24/7 access, according to the agenda.

“DCCCA will provide staff training at locations where the One Box units and vending machines are placed and restock the units as needed,” according to the agenda item.

Lastly, DCCCA will hold two targeted distribution events, one of which will take place outside of Lawrence, and let people know where they can come grab a dose of Narcan from DCCCA staff.

Of the $58,826 total, $44,460 will go toward the purchase of naloxone, and the remaining $14,366 will cover purchases of ONEbox devices, a vending machine and staff time, according to the agenda.

Commissioners had little discussion before unanimously approving the plan Wednesday.

Bob Tryanski, the county’s director of behavioral health projects, told the commissioners this plan will “give us an opportunity to get some baseline data about where people are accessing naloxone, how often, how frequently, how many units are moving, because one thing is clear: this is probably not enough units of naloxone to meet the need in Douglas County for 12 months.”

Kansas residents and organizations can request a free Narcan kit from DCCCA and learn about how it works at this link.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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