Nonfatal Opioid Overdose: Naloxone
Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can be used to reverse the effects of opioids during an opioid overdose. In Minnesota, the primary sources to obtain naloxone include:
- Doctors—a doctor can write a prescription for naloxone.
- Pharmacists—a pharmacy can enter into the Expanding Naloxone Access for Preventing Opioid Overdose and dispense naloxone to anyone who is at risk for, or knows someone who is at risk for, an opioid overdose.
- Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Providers—the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) distributes naloxone to all eight regional EMS providers.
- Law Enforcement—more and more law enforcement staff carry naloxone to intervene during an emergency with the public or if/when officers are exposed to high-potency opioids, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogs.
- Steve Rummler HOPE Foundation—the foundation provides training to the community about identifying the signs and symptoms of a drug overdose, administering naloxone, and what to expect after administering naloxone. Upon completion of the training, participants receive a naloxone kit.
With so many different sources, identifying and counting when naloxone is administered is challenging:
- Prescriptions for naloxone from a doctor or a pharmacist are captured in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), if a prescriber or pharmacy is enrolled in and uses the PMP.
- Naloxone administered by EMS is captured in the EMS reporting system.
- Currently there is not one central location to track which law enforcement agencies are carrying and administering naloxone.
- Lay people who administer naloxone are asked to voluntarily report administration to MN Poison Control, however because lay people get naloxone from multiple sources, this message is not consistently given at this time.
MN Poison Control has a 24/7 call center with trained medical professionals ready to assist during a poisoning or drug overdose, however this is a vastly underutilized resource for these emergencies in Minnesota. MN Poison Control would like to be notified any time a person is being treated for a drug overdose in a medical facility and/or when naloxone has been given by a medical professional or a layperson. In 2016, MN Poison Control was able to assist 11 lay people in administering naloxone during a drug overdose. While waiting for EMS to arrive, MN Poison Control stayed on the phone with the person administering and walked through what to do, what to look for, and what to expect. In all 11 cases, the person survived. MN Poison Control supplies MN data to the Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS) System, a national prescription drug abuse, misuse and diversion surveillance system that collects timely and geographically-specific data.
For more information about naloxone (what it is, who should get it, why to get it, where to get it, and how to give it), visit Opioid Overdose Prevention & Control.
Please visit the Opioid Dashboard for more information on opioid overdose death, nonfatal overdose, use, misuse, substance use disorder, prescribing practices, supply, diversion, harm reduction, co-occurring conditions, and social determinants of health.