Author: Mary Gutierrez
Background From 2001 to 2014, national overdose deaths from prescription opioids have increased 3.4-fold while deaths from heroin increased 6-fold. Nearly 2 million people in America have a prescription opioid use disorder, contributing to increased heroin use and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C. In addition to the harm reduction policies such as the prescription drug monitoring programs, the antidote to reverse opioid overdose is now available without a prescription in some states. Naloxone (Narcan®) blocks the brain receptors from the effects of opioids and can restore breathing within minutes to prevent fatality caused by opioid-associated respiratory depression. 2014 statistics reported that deaths from prescription drugs continue to claim more lives than motor vehicle accidents. In 2012, a documentary, “Behind The Orange Curtain,” filmed the drug abuse and opioid addiction epidemic in Orange County to raise awareness of the rampant opioid epidemic and related deaths, especially among teenagers. Previous proposed methods to increase the availability of naloxone included expanding naloxone distribution programs in community and correctional settings, and relabeling naloxone as an over-the-counter medication. Locations of naloxone distribution and education included detoxification centers, opioid overdose prevention centers, syringe exchange program sites, homeless shelters, and community health centers. However, the epidemic and related deaths continued to rise. As a result, the California State Board of Pharmacy enacted a regulation in January 2016 that allows California pharmacists authority to furnish naloxone to persons without a prescription. The law authorizes the furnishing of naloxone pursuant to a protocol developed by the California Board of Pharmacy and approved by the Medical Board of California. The intent is to broaden naloxone access and, thus, reduce overdose fatalities. However, there remains a persistent lack of knowledge of the help resources and educational programs available in the community Objectives 1. To provide users access to the facilities that furnish naloxone. 2. To provide educational programs about naloxone and opioid abuse to the users, healthcare providers, families, and students. Methods Creation of a free, web-based, user-friendly naloxone app for smart devices that will provide individuals with direct access to locations that furnish naloxone (pharmacies, urgent care facilities, detoxification centers, syringe exchange program sites, and community health centers). The app will also include direct links to help resources and educational programs about naloxone and opioid abuse in the community. The app will be piloted within the Orange County community. Evaluation of the frequency of app downloads, frequency of the user’s access to online educational programs, as well as the user’s visits to the various locations that furnish naloxone will be performed. Significance By offering a free, web-based naloxone app to the Orange County community will be the first technology approach to reach individuals who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, provide them and the community information of the locations that supply and furnish naloxone, help resources and education about opioid abuse. The main goal is to reduce the opioid-associated fatalities with naloxone in our community, and to expand our pilot study into other communities nationwide.
Co Author/Co-Investigator Names/Professional Title: Jerika T. Lam, Pharm.D., AAHIVP, FCSHP / Assistant Professor, Chapman University School of Pharmacy