West Virginia

Department of
Health & Human Resources

DHHR Launches Statewide Naloxone Distribution Project to Fight Opioid Overdose Deaths in West Virginia

2/6/2017

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced the first statewide naloxone distribution project aimed at preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication. 

“Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote that, if administered in a timely manner, can effectively reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid and opiate overdose and revive victims,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health.  “This collaboration represents an essential step toward turning around West Virginia’s staggering overdose statistics.”

The state-level naloxone distribution project is a partnership of DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) and Bureau for Public Health (BPH).  It is predominantly funded through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment $1.07 million block grant managed by the BBHHF, and is being administered by the BPH as part of its statewide harm reduction efforts.  The project will be jointly overseen by the BPH and the BBHHF to focus on reduction in the number of overdose deaths. 

“The partnership forged between the bureaus to move this project forward marks the first concerted, statewide effort to make this medication more widely available to all who can potentially save a life,” said Kimberly Walsh, BBHHF Deputy Commissioner.  “This initiative will significantly enhance the state’s ability to ensure that non-EMS first responders, as well as others with existing programs or those who have interest in establishing programs, have access to naloxone.”

DHHR has contracted with the West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center (WVU ICRC) to implement and evaluate the program through a census of existing naloxone programs. 

The WVU ICRC will use the data collected from its recent survey to compile a priority list of programs for the naloxone distribution.  Priority is based on the organization’s risk level (calculated from number and rate of overdose deaths in the county where the program is located) and estimated number of naloxone doses needed (based on survey responses).

The WVU ICRC has acquired more than 16,000 doses of medication, which will enable the distribution of more than 8,000, two-dose naloxone rescue kits to new and existing programs across the state.

Contact Information

Media contact: DHHRCommunications@wv.gov or (304) 558-7899

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