CINCINNATI — A hard-hit Ohio county that has expanded availability of naloxone during the opioid epidemic has been experiencing a decline in its overdose death toll.
Hamilton County’s program of increasing overdose antidote availability and quick response to requests for addiction treatment started last fall, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Public health officials increased distribution of the overdose-reversing Narcan nasal spray by 375 percent over a seven-month period.
The newspaper reported that Hamilton County coroner’s reports show a 34 percent decrease in overdose deaths in the first five months of 2018 compared with the same period last year.
There has been a 33 percent drop in medic runs for overdoses in the past six months compared with the previous six, and a 36 percent decrease in overdose visits to emergency rooms in that same period, according to Hamilton County Public Health surveillance data.
“We have plummeting mortality rates, increased treatment,” said Shawn Ryan, the founder of Brightview Treatment Centers and a member of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition.
Although Ryan praised the program’s progress, he remains cautious about overstating any early results.
“We are just now getting things going in the right direction and we still have a long way to go to overcome this crisis,” he said.
Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram reflected a similar view, noting that it’s vital that everyone work together.
“I am cautiously optimistic that we are definitely headed in the right direction,” Ingram said.
The University of Cincinnati is following the Hamilton County project, but tracking and research on the program isn’t complete yet.
Government and health officials in the county, which is home to Cincinnati, partnered for the massive effort. The county received donations from Adapt Pharma, an Irish company whose U.S. base is in Radnor, Pa. Adapt Pharma usually provides the two-dose Narcan spray kits for about $75 each.