Baltimore City Health Department Celebrates 20,000 Residents Trained in Using Lifesaving Opioid Overdose Antidote, Naloxone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Sean Naron: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (443) 414-0075

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891

BALTIMORE, MD (February 3, 2017) — Baltimore City health officials today recognized that 20,000 residents have been trained to administer naloxone—the opioid overdose reversal medication—since January 2015. Over that period of time, the medication has been used by residents to save more than 800 lives.

This milestone comes as preliminary data have shown that Baltimore City experienced 481 fatal overdoses from January through September 2016, compared with 393 overdose deaths in Baltimore City in all of 2015. An estimated 25,000 individuals use opioids in Baltimore.

“More people die from overdose than die from homicide in Baltimore,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “Drug addiction is directly connected to many of our society’s deepest problems, including poverty, crime, and lack of economic empowerment. Fighting the epidemic of overdose is absolutely critical to the overall health and success of our city.”

The milestone was announced during a public naloxone training and community celebration at Helping Up Mission, an organization that provides comprehensive faith-based recovery services for men fighting addiction, poverty, and homelessness in Greater Baltimore.

Following her appointment in January 2015, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen declared opioid overdose a public health emergency and implemented a citywide plan that aims to prevent overdose, increase access to treatment, and improve education for patients and providers.

As a key component of this plan, Dr. Wen has led one of the most aggressive opioid overdose prevention campaigns in the country, focused on expanding access to naloxone. In October 2015, Baltimore City became the first jurisdiction in Maryland to issue a “standing order” for naloxone, a blanket prescription enabling Dr. Wen to prescribe naloxone for all of Baltimore City’s 620,000 residents. Last February, Baltimore health officials also introduced a first of its kind online training to further reduce barriers to this lifesaving medication. In August 2016, BCHD announced the formation of a citywide, multi-agency Fentanyl Task Force responsible for creating real-time alert capacity and citywide rapid response for overdose spikes related to the synthetic opioid 50 times more potent than heroin. 

"As we recognize today’s milestone, we see that while we made tremendous progress in saving lives in our city, our work is far from over and we have much more to do,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “There is no face of addiction—it is a disease that does not discriminate. We must continue to save lives today while reducing stigma, encouraging prevention, and ensuring that all those who are have the disease of addiction can get the treatment that they need.”

At today’s event, health officials also celebrated a donation of approximately 5,000 lifesaving EVZIO® naloxone auto-injectors, from pharmaceutical company Kaléo. EVZIO is the is the first and only take-home naloxone auto-injection system with voice and visual guidance—designed to help caregivers take fast, confident action administering naloxone in an opioid emergency. The EVZIO donation is part of the Kaléo Cares program, an initiative that gives EVZIO auto-injectors to local law enforcement agencies and community organizations throughout the United States.

More information about Baltimore City’s response to the overdose epidemic can be found at: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/programs/substance-abuse

Learn more about how to use naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose and get trained online today at: http://dontdie.org/

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