Friday, August 31, 2012

International Overdose Awareness Day 2012

International Overdose Awareness Day originated in 2001 at the Salvation Army needle exchange program in Melbourne Australia. Saddened by the loss of so many people, a staff member named Sally Finn decided to organize a memorial event.  Just over a decade later, that event is now observed as International Overdose Awareness Day every 31 August in dozens of countries around the world.

There are at least two great things you can do to participate today. First, please donate to the Naloxone Fund, for which 100% of contributions go to purchasing naloxone for overdose projects around the USA. Funding goes through the Chicago Recovery Alliance, which was the first American harm reduction organization to distribute naloxone, and which has never stopped giving crucial support to new projects around the world.

Second, attend one of the many events happening today. The OD Day site has a list that includes many international events, and the Drug Policy Alliance has a list of events in the U.S.  The DOPE Project page also has events listings and many links to news and other information.

Over the next few days we'll post a roundup of news and ideas from this year's overdose day, and you can see a report on last year's events here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Capitalism Casts Its Gaze Upon Overdose Prevention

If you hang around long enough, the market will find you. And in an unanticipated but probably inevitable turn, we have what may be the first ever pharmaceutical advertisement aimed at community-based overdose prevention programs. Seen below, it's from LMA North America, which produces the nasal atomizer device used by most or all programs in the USA that distribute intranasal naloxone. This is a great thing, a clear sign that U.S. programs have reached a mass big enough that business needs to pay attention to them. Hopefully part of this development will be increasing leverage to negotiate better naloxone prices and delivery products.

Thanks to Eliza Wheeler of the amazing DOPE Project for passing on the advertisement. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drug Czar applauds NC overdose prevention program and endorses expanded use of naloxone

Time's Maia Szalavitz provides a nice overview of today's roundtable in North Carolina, where ONDCP director Gil Kerlikowske and OD prevention program Project Lazarus discussed a comprehensive approach that includes expanded use of naloxone:

Preventing Overdose: Obama Administration Drug Czar Calls For Wider Access to Overdose Antidote
For the first time, the drug czar has supported broadening access to naloxone, the life-saving prescription drug that immediately reverses overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers

By Maia Szalavitz

Speaking on Wednesday at a North Carolina overdose-prevention program, the Obama administration’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske called for increased action to prevent drug overdose deaths. Notably, Kerlikowske urged wider distribution of a medication called naloxone, an antidote to overdoses of opioid drugs, including prescription pain relievers and heroin, saying that “naloxone can be expanded beyond public health officials.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Will the "Drug Czar" speak in support of naloxone?

Gil Kerlikowske, Obama's director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (better known to most as the Drug Czar) will visit OD prevention program Project Lazarus on Wednesday. He's expected to make policy announcements, and his press release makes reference to naloxone. 

Will he speak out in support of peer distribution? 

For the policy wonks out there, you can watch the event live starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. EST. 

We'll report more from the event.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Scottish naloxone website

Check out the new naloxone website from the Scottish Drugs Forum, a leader in naloxone distribution to drug users

Good stuff: the site is easy to navigate and includes training videos, research and materials for overdose programs.

In this video, Stephen Malloy, the national coordinator for take-home naloxone in Scotland, talks about why they created the website. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day

Originally founded by the Australian Salvation Army, International Overdose Awareness Day honors the value of every life and commemorates loved ones we've lost. This year there are many ways you can observe the day on August 31, including events in many cities. One of the best things you can do is to contribute to the naloxone access fund. No amount is too small (nor too large), it's tax deductible if you're in the U.S., and every dollar helps save lives.  

For more information visit the International Overdose Awareness Day website. OPA's roundup of news from last year may be read here

Friday, August 10, 2012

National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators Supports Naloxone Access

We've had a lot of success in bringing public health and medical agencies onboard with overdose prevention, and it's all the more exciting to see other pieces of the picture fall into place. On the law enforcement front, the U.S. National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) has issued a position statement encouraging police and other law enforcement officers to carry and be trained in the use of naloxone. As they write:

It is the opinion of the NADDI Executive Board that the ready availability of this product will ultimately save many lives, as police officers are oftentimes the first responders where delays of only a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death. 

That's the heart of the matter and why we need more cops to understand and be involved in overdose prevention. Overdose projects involving police have been working for years in New Mexico and have more recently saved lives on Long Island, New York and in Massachusetts.

NADDI is a national nonprofit organization that provides training and "facilitates cooperation between law enforcement, healthcare professionals, state regulatory agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers in the investigation and prevention of prescription drug abuse and diversion." 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

PubMed July 2012 Update

LOTS of great articles this month (10 total)! Let’s start with an updated chart of the number of scientific opioid overdose articles each year from 1980 through 2011 …

1. Injection Drug Users Trained by Overdose Prevention Programs: Responses to Witnessed Overdoses 
Lankenau SE, Wagner KD, Silva K, Kecojevic A, Iverson E, McNeely M, Kral AH.
J Community Health. 2012 Jul 31. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: An exciting article from a mixed methods study of Los Angeles area naloxone recipients. The authors note the possible need for booster sessions after naloxone distribution – an interesting idea that plays into the possible behavioral effect of naloxone. Hopefully this is the first of many such analyses.

Dasgupta N, Davis J, Jonsson Funk M, Dart R.
PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41181. Epub 2012 Jul 19.
Comments: Intriguing analysis of calls to poison control centers. The number of methadone calls was associated with overall methadone mortality, although the calls tended to be from younger, and more often female, individuals that may not have required medical attention. How about a state-by-state breakdown of Google Methadone Trends?

Wang KH, Becker WC, Fiellin DA.
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012 Jul 20. [Epub ahead of print]
Comments: Based on the 2008-2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, authors looked at nonmedical use of prescription opioids by county. Overall use rates were similar in urban and rural counties, with high rates of psychological distress and non-medical use of other prescription drugs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Support Prevention Programs on Overdose Awareness Day

Nearly 15 years ago, the Chicago Recovery Alliance became the first organization in the U.S. to distribute naloxone and give prevention and response training to people at risk of overdose. After they expanded the project, heroin overdose mortality dropped by more than a third in Chicago over two years. And not content with their local success, CRA staff have given countless hours of free advice, encouragement, prodding, training and crucial aid in getting access to naloxone and other supplies. Overdose prevention would look nothing like it does today without their work. Beyond that, the CRA model was the direct inspiration for scores of overdose projects in Russia, Ukraine, Thailand and many other countries. 

Today times are tough and we're asking you to give something back to the folks at CRA who have done so much for us. Funding is scarce and naloxone availability and pricing has challenged projects just as we're reaching critical mass across the country. So for this year's International Overdose Awareness Day there is a campaign underway to raise funds. All proceeds will go to CRA directly for the purchase of naloxone (and are tax deductible if you're American). 

Follow this link to the campaign page to learn more and donate. A few more words from the campaign are after the fold.

Thanks for your support from all of us at OPA!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Overdose Prevention Legislation Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

On August 2, Maryland Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards introduced the "Stop Overdose Stat (SOS) Act" to the U.S. House with bipartisan cosponsorship. The bill is an expanded version of legislation that Edwards introduced but failed to pass in 2009. With any luck the increased attention to overdose at the federal level and greater bipartisan involvement in the drafting of the current bill (particularly with leadership from California Republican Mary Bono Mack) will get it the consideration it deserves.

The full text of the bill is available on GovTrack here. In its current form the bill would establish four important things at the federal level:

  • A grant program, to be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), supporting overdose prevention work including naloxone distribution. Government public health agencies and community-based organizations would be eligible. 
  • An overdose surveillance system whereby CDC would aggregate and analyze overdose data from local, state and federal government agencies and private sources. Such data could potentially fill gaps in information and provide a consistent way of spotting national trends that can help direct resources and programming. Crucially, the bill would also direct CDC to provide surveillance technical assistance to local and state agencies, which could spur more detailed and accurate reporting.
  • Development of a national plan to reduce overdose mortality, to be submitted to Congress by the Secretary for Health and Human Services no later than 180 days after the law is enacted. 
  • New or expanded research grants on overdose through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which would include a review of current research funding and grants to evaluate existing or trial interventions.

The Drug Policy Alliance has a few more details in their press release. All in all, the bill is an exciting development and just the fact of its existence helps keep momentum going in the right direction with the Feds. OPA encourages American readers to thank their congressional representative if they co-sponsored the bill (there's a list here), and others to call their rep and encourage them to support it.