The Naloxone Project

Lehigh Valley Health Network Department of Emergency Medicine
$20,000 for one year

Resources will be used to educate, train and equip first responders and members of law enforcement in the recognition and immediate treatment of opioid overdose.

The use of naloxone, widely used as an antidote that can instantly reverse the effects of heroin or prescription opioids (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, or fentanyl), has been available since 1971 as Narcan® for injection. Naloxone had, until recently, only been approved for prescription and its use was generally limited to hospital settings.

Recent advances in the development of new delivery systems for naloxone, as well as the rapidly expanding use of some of those systems by urban police departments across the country, have brought evidence of the increasing need for, and effectiveness of, naloxone to the forefront. Previously, only those with medical training could measure, assemble and properly administer the drug by intravenous injection; there are now nasal spray and premeasured syringe kits available at $20-$25 per dose.

The Massachusetts State Health Department paid about $500,000 to fund pilot programs last year and, in May 2014, the New York Police Department (NYPD)–the largest police force in the United States–announced that it received funding of more than $1 million to equip and train close to 20,000 officers with such kits. Each kit contains two pre-filled syringes, two atomizers for nasal administration, sterile gloves and a booklet on the use of the drug. New York’s training program for each officer takes approximately 45 minutes.

In New Jersey, police and first responders in Ocean and Monmouth counties carry naloxone and their pilot program is extending to other areas. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has enacted a law protecting those who report an overdose and approved a waiver shielding those emergency medical technicians and police trained in administering naloxone from liability. In all, 17 states are already improving access to naloxone. In Pennsylvania, the bi-partisan sponsored House Bill 2090 provided similar protections and gave the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs authority to provide grants to pay for training, medical services, naloxone, and supplies. The staff of LVHN’s George E. Moerkirk Emergency Medicine Institute will provide training for first responders and equip them with naloxone kits.

David Burmeister, D.O., Chair of Emergency Medicine, will assume overall leadership for the Naloxone Project. Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin will provide overall leadership for the law enforcement and first responder community.

The number of first responders, police and general community members who receive education on the availability and understanding for the potential use of Naloxone will be tracked. LVHN staff of the Emergency Medicine Department and staff of the George E. Moerkirk Emergency Medicine Institute will work closely with law enforcement officials to attain the greatest impact in training and education offered.

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