Author: Justin Mckibben
Naloxone expansion is something we consistently see as a topic of discussion. Naloxone, or the name-brand Narcan, is an opioid overdose antidote that is in high demand as one of the primary tools in the fight against the ongoing overdose outbreak. Law makers and law enforcement agencies have joined with community organizations and pharmacy companies in trying to provide this medication to more and more people.
New legislation across the U.S. has made access to Naloxone more common than ever. Now, the drive for Naloxone expansion is leading us to another avenue. This is beyond supplying the families of addicts, the addicts themselves and first responders.
Some may remember, back in September, the Food and Drug Administration launched a competition to app developers in the name of improving resources for naloxone expansion. The contest was seeking a mobile app for connecting people experiencing a drug overdose with someone nearby who can administer naloxone. With technology being used to expedite just about everything in our world, it only made sense to use it to help save lives if possible.
The winner of the Naloxone App Competition has been announced this month, and the $40,000 cash prize has been claimed. Their mission: to make it possible for more people to be first responders for opiate overdoses.
The OD Help App
The winning app is the OD Help App, creared by Team PwrdBy, a small start-up in Venice, California. The start-up’s CEO Jared Sheehan says this innovation stems from the idea of making naloxone assistance as available as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. With Uber and Lyft drivers being so spread out, the idea is the app could cover a lot more ground and reach more people in the event of opioid overdose.
Sheehan says there’s still a lot of work to be done before the app is made available to the public. To implement this kind of program with Uber or Lyft, it would require reaching out and coordinating with ride-sharing companies. Sheehan stated:
“Is there a way if every Uber driver had a naloxone kit in the back of their car, that you could call someone and they’d be able to come over and administer naloxone?”
So in essence, the idea of the OD Help app would be to be able to alert naloxone carriers of an overdose (OD) and give them the option of being dispatched to help revive someone experiencing the overdose.
Expanding Team PwrdBy Naloxone Plan
According to Sheehan, ride-sharing apps are just one avenue that Team PwrdBy is setting its sights on. The company is also exploring more traditional distribution systems.
One such method Team PwrdBy wants to look to for inspiration for the OD Help app is the AED network, the automated external defibrillators network across schools. The goal is to better comprehend how these programs are funded and distributed. Modeling after an already successful style of expanded access for other emergency medical supplies may be vital to changing the way we expand naloxone access.
All of this is to save as many lives as possible.
How OD Help Works
The OD Help app connects opioid users with a crowd-sourced network of naloxone carriers. Using GPS, it specifically connects someone who may experience an overdose with someone nearby who has access to naloxone. The app is also able to be personalize to the user’s specifications. One feature lets you set it up so in the event of an overdose the app would only alert people in your selected support network. And naloxone carriers can disable alerts if they are not able to respond.
Another feature available with the OD Help app is a breathing monitor. This can be helpful for people who use opioids alone. It gives the app a way to communicate with others when the user can’t. The wearable monitor is able to detect if the individual’s breathing rate is dangerously low, a sign of overdose. In this case the OD Help app automatically alerts a naloxone carrier nearby.
The app also features information on:
- How to correctly identify an overdose
- How to administer naloxone
Another hope is that the app will also inform younger generations about the dangers of opioid abuse, and about overdose prevention. The hope is the app could reach a younger population and make them aware of how to get access to naloxone and how to administer it. Many young people don’t think of pharmacies as a place to get the drug that could save their lives.
Put to Good Use
The truth is, not all people will be able to have access to a consistent supply of naloxone. The drug also doesn’t last forever. For those who would need to have an overdose antidote resource, the OD Help app could be a safe-guard against being completely unprepared for an overdose.
Some people may be embarrassed or have some reservations about personally obtaining naloxone. With the OD Help app they could reach out to someone if they truly needed the help.
If you or someone you loved were overdosing, would it be useful to be able to look on an app and find someone close by with the tools to help? Some people would say you should just call an ambulance, but what if it could get there sooner? Or what if someone is afraid of reporting it? Too many people die for these very reasons, but they shouldn’t have to. Sure, some people may ask if they would let a random citizen administering the antidote. However, some might say any help is worth having.
Then on the other side, would people be willing to come to the rescue if they had the resources? If your phone rang and the OD Help app said someone needed help around the corner, would you? Would you be happy you could?
Something tells me plenty of people would be willing to put this tool to good use.
This writer has said this before; the preservation of all lives should be a responsibility of all who have the ability to help; not just for public health officials, but everyone. As part of that, Palm Partners is dedicated to contributing to the rehabilitation and revolutionary growth possible with holistic treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in March of this year I wrote about how government officials were attempting to wage war against Big Pharma’s pricing policies, specifically congressional leaders asking for a little compassion from the legal drug lords of Big Pharma for a price-cut on the life-saving anti-overdose drug naloxone in the face of a dismal heroin and opiate overdose epidemic casting a shadow of desperation and death over the country.
Naloxone, a generic drug that’s also known as Narcan, is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses by relieving the depression of the nervous and respiratory systems. It also helps someone who may be suffering from an overdose by suppressing symptoms of hypertension.
Now… despite the government pleas, and possibly because of the continued demand for naloxone, manufacturers of the opioid overdose antidote are continuing to raise prices!
Again I will say it like I said it in March; Big Pharma is holding one of the greatest utilities we have in the fight against the overdose epidemic hostage!
And again I ask; how far will Big Pharma go to keep the supply limited when death by drugs is what creates the demand?
Doubling Per Dose
When looking at the whole nation, the death rates from overdose are not getting any better in America, and more states are working to try and create a transformation in their drug policies to provide support, education and treatment instead of punishment and incarceration. Naloxone in all reality is needed now more than ever!
A report from the NPR found that Baltimore’s City Health Department was paying $20 per dose in February, for a drug that when it initially hit the market had only cost less than $3 a dose!
Oh, and that price of $20 in February… doubled just 2 months ago in July… and this isn’t the first time! The price for naloxone had ALREADY doubled just last year before being $20… it’s almost like every 6 months since the opiate epidemic started getting worse it suddenly became more expensive to make the medicine!
Amphastar Pharmaceuticals is the Big Pharma empire, which seems more like a member of the Axis of Evil these days, that manufacturers naloxone. Amphastar holds a paralyzing monopoly over the naloxone availability in America because the company is the ONLY manufacturer in the United States producing the overdose antidote used for intranasal administration. Almost single-handedly this company has managed to attenuate the country, and beyond that it has the audacity to candidly blame the horrendous (and conveniently timed) spike in prices on “increases in manufacturing costs.”
Really? Sure… seems legit.
Needless to say, plenty of experts and politicians simply aren’t buying that excuse… but they’re still having to buy naloxone.
Bad for Us, Good for Business
Mass manipulation of expenses in the depths of the overdose epidemic has obviously become a pretty marketable business strategy for Amphastar, seeing as how they have been at this since the 1970’s when the drug was first developed. Then in 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared an opioid epidemic, and the drug went from less than $3 per dose and multiplied time and time again.
Looking back last February after feeling the pressure of a nation frantic for a solution, Amphastar agreed to offer a $6 rebate per dose to agencies in New York state. Surely this helped out a lot because at one point it was noted that New York saw more deaths from heroin overdose than homicide.
Still, the Big Apple isn’t the only place rotting from within with opiate abuse, and Amphastar Pharmaceuticals has not offered this or any other rebate to any other state in the nation thus far.
Reports have shown that in 2013 more than 1/3 of all overdose deaths in the U.S. were due to prescription opioids, and considering the World Health Organization reported increasing the availability of naloxone could actually save the lives of 20,000 people all over the United States annually the increase in price and decreased access to naloxone is devastating to the efforts to fight the opiate overdose epidemic.
With more and more people across the population in dire need of help, Big Pharma has decided to put a billion dollar boot on the neck of a nation already struggling to breathe… meanwhile this year the FDA approved the use of dangerous opiate narcotics to people younger than ever.
What in the actual… you know what… United States Representative Elijah Cummings from Maryland said it best,
“When drug companies increase their prices and charge exorbitant rates, they decrease the access to the drug. There’s something awfully wrong with this picture.”
Is the Fight Futile?
Then there was some hope in the air as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced an expanded grants program earlier this year to assist states with purchasing naloxone. The HHS also confirmed they would step up to provide additional funding in order to help distribute the antidote to first responders and families all across the U.S. who desperately need the resources.
Another champion for the recovery efforts in America is Michael Botticelli, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy who is himself in recovery, stated:
“We know that naloxone is saving lives. The HHS plan to increase naloxone’s use will go a long way toward reducing overdose deaths, which have devastated so many families and communities across the country.”
Botticelli was a key speaker at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) press conference on September 11, and has actively been involved in trying to create change across the country as to raising awareness about addiction and providing resources to help addicts in recovery.
Still, the insanity is that the government is being forced to create programs and dedicate millions of dollars to providing a drug to combat the overdose epidemic, while the pharmaceutical company pumping out the drug sits back and counts the cash it rakes in off exploiting the exhausted state of the country.
How many deaths could have been avoided if this multibillion dollar enterprise was willing to stop raising the price on one medication that could save countless lives?
What else needs to happen in order for Big Pharma to get in the game and stop making it harder on those who are trying to help the addicts in their communities? Not everyone gets the treatment they need, but it is possible and we want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Prescription drug abuse is easily one of the biggest health concerns facing Americans today. Prescription painkillers and other narcotic medications have made a vast contribution to the overdose epidemic, and experts in the area of drug addiction have frequently done their best to try and inform the public about how leaving unused prescription drugs around the house is a very dangerous and unnecessary risk.
There have been a lot of programs put together by community leaders to have prescription drug drop boxes and throw away locations set up for individuals to safely and responsibly dispose of their dangerous medications. But now there is a new innovation that could make the entire process easier and keep our homes safer. These drugs have made the problem with opiates, especially heroin, even worse and now this simple solution could put a big dent in the heroin epidemic.
Zip It Up
Instead of taking unused narcotics to a prescription drug drop box at a police station or pharmacy, there’s a new bag that destroy liquids, pills, or patches in seconds.
Deterra is a brand spanking new drug deactivation system that’s so exclusive you can’t even buy it yet. The new miracle product looks like a zip lock bag, but inside there is another little bag full of activated carbon.
When you have extra, unused or unidentified pills to dispose of, you just add the pills to the bag with some water. It only take 10 seconds in the bag, and it could mean the difference between life and death. Jared Opsal, public awareness specialist for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse believes this is one of the big answers we have been looking for when it comes down to the opiate and heroin epidemic. Opsal stated:
“It’s very simple. This is like hitting the easy button for prescription drug disposal.”
This new and exciting invention may be the future of harm reduction, and the technology has only been out for almost a month.
For the Deterra bags there are two sizes, with the larger of the two being able to destroy as many as 90 pills effectively in one use. As if that weren’t enough, Deterra is more environmentally friendly than flushing drugs down the toilet, and it can create a stutter that puts a stop to a pill habit that quickly grows into a heroin addiction.
Too many addicts get hooked starting with opioid painkillers at a young age, and afterwards they become more and more desperate, usually with no idea that this typically leads to a serious heroin problem. Many teens actually start getting high on prescriptions they find at home, and once they build a tolerance to pills, it is only a matter of time between them and the needle.
Some have made even a direct statement that leaving unused prescription medications of any kind around the house is just like leaving a loaded gun out for your children to play with, and more suggest that when writing prescriptions it would make a huge difference for families if the companies or doctors included these bags with the pill bottle. The impact of having an immediate way to dispose of any hazardous substance would probably save many from ever even getting their first taste of opiates.
While you still can’t just go out and buy these at a CVS right now, there is still a way to get these drug disposal bags. For the time being you must contact the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, or contact Deterra at www.deterrasystem.com and they will ship them out to you. Either way there is a new opportunity to take some action that could change a serious outcome or even save a life.
We all have some level of involvement and opportunity to help influence the issue of drug abuse in our communities and in our country. Some people can do something as simple as safely and effectively destroying their medications. Others may have to take a little more action, but there is help out there. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
The overdose epidemic in America is at full throttle and blazing a serious trail with no signs of stopping in the immediate future. A disheartening abundance of live continue to be lost as the nation’s leaders and state authorities scramble for resolutions, while some areas experience more destruction than ever at the hands of heroin. Now a new brand has hit Pittsburgh that seems to be responsible for a series of overdoses, and local authorities are attempting to trace it in order to shut it down.
Already 2 people are dead in the largest wave of heroin overdoses in the entire Pittsburgh area since the batch of fentanyl-laced heroin that according to officials killed almost 2 dozen addicts in 2014, and again it seems there’s some connection between these newest cases.
24 Hours of Overdoses
There was one day in particular in Pittsburgh that had authorities in a frenzy. In a 24 hour period between the morning of Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon there were reports of a dozen heroin overdoses. Police Commander RaShall Brackney reported later on Wednesday that thanks to emergency services having access to Narcan, the overdose antidote drug known for reversing the deadly effects of opioid poisoning, ten people who overdose survived when paramedics administered the lifesaving medicine. Most of the incidences occurred on the South Side and in neighborhoods on the West End. Commander Brackney went on to say,
“This huge spike in the last 24 hours is causing us extreme concern,”
Out of the dozen reported overdoses, not all the individuals were so lucky to have been revived. The 2 men that died of suspected overdoses were:
- Patrick Byrnes, 38, of Beechview
- James Nardozi, 31, of Dormont
Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said that the official cause of death in both cases is still pending, but added that county medical examiner Dr. Karl Williams indicated they appear to be heroin-related.
In Allegheny County alone there were 299 deaths from drug overdoses in 2014, a number that had nearly tripled since the year 2000 when there were 109. In Westmoreland County, 87 people died in 2014, nearly four times the number in 2002. So it is fair to say that a need for more overdose prevention resources and education in this area may be needed while the police try to track down the source of the lethal substance that supposedly is leaving a calling card with stamped bags.
Stopping the Stamps
The police have found a piece of this deadly puzzle to turn their focus toward, as the bags used to package the drugs involved in a number of these cases were stamped with the word “predator” along with the image of a shark, police Commander Larry Scirotto said. But the two deaths were stamped in different bags, including:
- A bag labeled “Chocolate” at the scene of Byrnes death.
- A bag found near Nardozi had the stamp, “Chicken/Waffle”
The Allegheny County Crime Lab is currently examining the stamp bags to verify, but it already appears the heroin came from the same distributor. Commander Scirotto did say,
“It’s hard to predict if this is more potent or if it’s laced with something else,”
With this brand being linked to these deaths, some have asked if the dealer who sold the heroin could face homicide charges, since many states are starting to push for stricter penalties be paid and that dealers be held responsible for the deaths of their customers (if they knowingly sell a tainted product).
Fentanyl is a very potent synthetic opioid that has been highlighted recently for contributing to the overdose deaths of many people, and now the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigating the source of the fentanyl laced heroin in order to remove these intensely dangerous drugs from the market.
Arming Officials with Narcan
Paramedics now regularly carry Narcan to treat suspected opioid overdose victims on the spot, and in some states people are insisting that these same resources be made widely available to prevent further incidents. In Pittsburgh the city paramedics have been armed with Narcan for at least 20 years, and now the talk is to arm city police officers.
The idea of equipping the police is probably one that will pay off. The Westmoreland County Sheriff’s deputies have been carrying Narcan since last year, and it has been reported that state police troopers will carry it soon.
Narcan initially could only be injected with a syringe, but now it is available as a nasal spray, which makes it easier for law enforcement or family members to administer. Pennsylvania is now among at least 24 states allowing expanded use of Narcan, and actually have a law preventing those who respond to and report overdoses from being prosecuted, while allowing friends and family members of people at risk of overdose eligible for a prescription of Narcan to have in case of emergency.
As officials call out for more availability for the overdose antidote, the city of Pittsburgh is being infiltrated by a toxic trade-mark shark that seems to be just one of a series of labeled poison packages killing addicts in the area. Too many more of those 24 hour overdose outbreaks could do some serious damage, but hopefully authorities can cut off the suppliers, or at the very least be ready to treat those in need.
While drug overdose threatens lives in Pittsburgh, people all over the nation are facing the same threats and looking for hope anyway they can. Too many addicts are dying right now because they don’t know a way out, but it is possible and we at Palm Partners want to help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Americans today are faced with a presence of drug overdose like none other, and it has made a staggering impact on the death rate in this country. Drug overdose has become public enemy number one, and while the epidemic claims an overwhelming number of lives some predictions say it hasn’t even come close to being over. New York City saw some of the worst of it, with the city’s Department of Health confirming recently that there were more heroin overdose deaths in New York City than homicides in the year 2013.
Tallying Death Tolls
At the time this poll was taken, there were no exact numbers for 2014 available, but it was enough to confirm that in the year of 2014 there were also more citizens of New York City killed by heroin overdoses than by other people, compared to 335 homicides.
One other thing we do know about 2014 is that New York law enforcement officials also seized 2,168 pounds of heroin with a street value of approximately $300 million. Taking into account the rising number of overdoses and the spread of the opiate epidemic, I’d say it would be surprising if 2014 did not far surpass 2013. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has already seized 220 pounds of heroin as of the first few months of 2015. Then there’s another 120 pounds that has already been confiscated by the office of the special narcotics prosecutor. It’s barely April and already these agencies are on a roll. Special agent James Hunt in charge of the DEA’s New York Field Division stated,
“We’ve never seen these numbers, not even in the heroin epidemics from 30 to 40 years ago,”
The heroin deaths in NYC also spread across a wide range of races and socio-economic backgrounds. Hunt went on to say,
“I would definitely call it an epidemic. This is no longer a ghetto drug … It’s in the suburbs and crosses all economic lines and social lines. This is a problem that’s everywhere.”
Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said that many heroin addicts were initially hooked on prescription painkillers. These narcotic medications were at one point the leading cause of overdose related incidences in the nation, even over heroin. As more restrictions were implemented and the infamous ‘pill mills’ were raided and closed, addicts became desperate at the market dried up, and many switched over to heroin because it’s cheaper and produces a longer-lasting high.
The supply is part of what is creating the demand, and what’s behind the skyrocketing death rate. Heroin that is being trafficked into America and across the states is about 60% to 70% pure, paralleled to only a 10% purity back in the ‘70s. With a potency like that users can get high without shooting the drug into their veins. Brennan said in an interview,
“Addicts eventually go there, but they start off snorting it or sprinkling it on alcoholic drinks. But when you are in the grips of an addiction, putting a needle in your arm is not a big deal at that point.”
From personal experience this all makes sense. Using a needle is often the only thing holding some addicts back from making the leap from using prescription painkillers to heroin, and even that doesn’t last long.
Mapping the Progression
The greater part of heroin overdose deaths throughout NYC occurred in neighborhoods located in Staten Island and the Bronx. Although the Mexican cartels are in control of trafficking heroin into NYC, the heroin mills themselves have been operating out of residential homes in the Bronx and even in northern Manhattan. Once crushed and packaged into glassine envelopes, they are then distributed throughout the five boroughs.
Since mapping the progression, the NYPD has decided to require all officers in Staten Island to carry naloxone, which is the heroin overdose antidote also known by its generic name Narcan.
Putting the life-saving drug naloxone in the hands of emergency services is a move that has begun to progress into a trend, as more and more states are developing programs to make this resource more accessible. Some states are even moving to make naloxone available in schools. Several states have taken it the extra mile and demanded that the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing these medications should make them more affordable. As of May 2014, more than half of NYPD officers also carry naloxone.
Taking a minute to consider this information, it is terrifying to think that even in a major city that is no stranger to crime heroin is still the heaviest hitter in terms of ending lives. More than injury related accidents or even gang violence, heroin is a plague that has a real foothold in New York City and is sweeping the states taking lives. But putting more power in the hands of the police and other officials to save lives is one way the city hopes to take back their streets.
Overdose death is not to be underestimated anymore. Our fathers, sons, mothers and daughters are losing their lives to the fight against addiction, and there is help out there for those who are willing to take action. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135