Opiate overdose reversal kits now available at three Kentucky hospitals

05/26/2015 03:41 PM

EDGEWOOD — Drug overdose victims at St. Elizabeth Hospitals in northern Kentucky, along with the University of Kentucky Medical Center, and the University of Louisville Hospital will be given opiate overdose kits when they are discharged from the hospital so they or a loved one can prevent another overdose and possibly save a life.

The kits, which contain Naloxone, also known as Narcan, reverses the effects of a heroin overdose by physiologically blocking the effects of opiates.

Fifteen Hundred kits were purchased for $105,000 by the Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory Committee (SATAC), with money secured by Attorney General Jack Conway from a settlement with two pharmaceutical companies. The judge required that settlement funds be used to expand drug treatment in Kentucky.

The kits were distributed to the three hospitals in Kentucky which have the highest percentage of overdose patients.

Conway, who chaired SATAC, attended a press conference on Tuesday in northern Kentucky to announce the availability of the kits, said that it was about saving lives.

“Unfortunately heroin use is on the rise,” Conway said. “By dispensing these kits, in the most populated centers, hopefully, we can reverse that trend.”

First Lady Jane Beshear, who serves with Conway on the committee, says that heroin epidemic is truly affecting Kentuckians from all walks of life.

“It’s affected people whether they are young or whether they’re old, whether they’re
men, or whether they’re women or children, or whether they’re wealthy people, or whether they’re people on the streets,” Beshear said. “It’s something that’s affecting so many people.”

Five Hundred forty-five in 2013 and 745 people in 2014 were treated for heroin overdoses at the five hospitals in the St. Elizabeth Healthcare System.

Ashel Kreutzkamp, St. Elizabeth Ft. Thomas Emergency Nurse Manager, acknowledges that treatment is essential, but if they victims die before treatment is available, they obviously can’t be treated.

“We’ve got to save their lives to get them there and this (the kit) is going to help us do that,” Kreutzkamp said.

Kreutzkamp says that kits will be distributed to overdose victims who have a person with them when they are discharged.

“We’re going to base it off of, if you’re a heroin overdose and you’ve arrived at one of the five ED systems, and you have somebody with you,” Kreutzkamp said. “We have to educate not only the user but somebody with them. It could be anybody. It could be another user if they’re sober, a family member, a loved one, it doesn’t matter.”

Currently, Naloxone is not covered by Medicaid or many private insurance companies, which means even if users receive a prescription, they are unlikely to fill it because they cannot afford it.

Naloxone is available in injectable or nasal mist forms. The nasal mist form must still be approved by the FDA. When approved, health experts believe most insurance companies and Medicaid will begin to cover the costs.

In 2013, 230 Kentuckians died from heroin overdoses. Final numbers for heroin overdoses in 2014 are not yet available, but the Office of Drug Control Policy estimates heroin was involved in 30 percent of all drug overdose deaths during the year.


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