Colorado’s attorney general has announced the launch of the Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative. It is a statewide partnership to save lives with the opioid reversal medication, Naloxone.

The initiative is a collaboration with the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. The consortium is a broad-based group that is working to prevent the abuse of opioid medications. It also is addressing the impact of the growing trend in heroin abuse in Colorado. 

Naloxone, which is now in a nasal form known as NARCAN, can be easily administered to an overdosing person, and can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, reviving individuals, and potentially preventing death. Along with other partners across Colorado, the initiative will provide law enforcement and other first responders with training and access to NARCAN. It will also provide a way to track the success of the use of the medication in Colorado.

NARCAN rescue kits are available at a discount price to governments through a U.S. Communities cooperative purchasing contract with Premier Medical. The Colorado initiative’s rescue kits were purchased through the U.S. Communities' Premier contract.

“Coloradans, along with the rest of our nation, are experiencing a deadly opioid public health crisis,” says Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman (photo below at left) when she announced the initiative. “We can’t sit by and watch the horrible disease of opioid addiction claim more lives in our local communities.”

“We know that NARCAN can save people in their most critical life or death moment during an overdose, which is why I am proud to help lead the Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative to make this medication available for use by law enforcement and other first responders across our state,” Coffman says.

The Office of the Attorney General will allocate $264,500 for the Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative, using funds from settlements with pharmaceutical companies that are designated to be used in addressing public health issues.

Coffman’s office, working with multiple community partners, will use those funds to purchase 2,500 dual-dose NARCAN Rescue Kits that will be distributed to law enforcement personnel and first responders in 17 Colorado counties with high rates of drug overdose deaths. Those counties include Adams, Baca, Bent, Clear Creek, Crowley, Delta, Dolores, Freemont, Huerfano, Jackson, Las Animas, Mesa, Otero, Ouray, Phillips, Pueblo and Sedgwick.

Whatever kits are not distributed in those counties, if any, will go to other jurisdictions with an interest in having NARCAN until the supply runs out.

The initiative’s funds were also used to conduct 10 trainings in 6 regions across the state on how to administer NARCAN and on associated protocols for its use. The trainings were free and open to the public. Law enforcement personnel and first responders from the prioritized counties that attended the training were eligible to receive the NARCAN kits.

A portion of the initiative’s funds will be used for an upgrade of the OpiRescu app for mobile devices. The app provides in-the-field instruction on how to administer NARCAN. It also will be used to collect information on overdose reversals.

NARCAN Nasal Spray is the only FDA-approved, ready-to-use nasal spray version of naloxone hydrochloride. This medication is used along with emergency medical treatment to reverse the life-threatening effects of opiate (narcotic) overdose. The product is a ready-to-use, needle-free device. It delivers a 4-mg dose of naloxone in a single 0.1 ml nasal spray. NARCAN Nasal Spray requires no assembly or priming prior to use. 

The discount program through the cooperative contract is an effort to provide affordable access to NARCAN for entities that serve the public interest with limited funding. Public interest pricing is available at a 40 percent discount, or $37.50 per dose ($75 for a two-pack carton).

The need is great in Colorado. An overdose death occurs in Colorado every nine hours and twenty-four minutes, according to data shared by the Harm Reduction Action Center. Data from the state of Colorado compiled by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) showed that between 2002 and 2014, drug overdose deaths increased in all but one county in Colorado, resulting in a 68 percent increase in drug overdose deaths. What’s more, there are counties in Colorado with overdose death rates that rank among the highest in the U.S.

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