MiraVista Receives Donation of Life-saving Narcan

HOLYOKE — When Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law “An Act for Prevention and Access to Appropriate Care and Treatment of Addiction,” a chapter of that 2018 legislation expanded access to the life-saving drug naloxone that can temporarily reverse the effect of an opioid overdose.

The expansion through a statewide standing order at a time when the Commonwealth was dealing with an opioid-overdose crisis allowed pharmacies to dispense the drug, whose brand names include Narcan, without a prescription to anyone at risk for experiencing such an overdose or others in a position to help them. Updates to existing legislation allowed properly trained public-safety responders to dispense naloxone kits as well.

The expansion of access to the drug, whose distribution for use during an overdose was first piloted in the state in 2007, is credited with helping to save thousands of lives, and kits containing naloxone for delivery in the form of a nasal spray remain a key part of the state’s harm-reduction strategy.

Today, Sept. 28, Springfield Pharmacy delivered 60 naloxone kits to MiraVista Behavioral Health Center. Springfield Pharmacy is covering the cost of the kits, which represents a nearly $3,000 commitment to ensuring patients and staff have access to the lifesaving properties of Narcan.

“The standing order allows us to dispense naloxone with or without a prescription to any person that is at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose,” said Alex Wu, Springfield Pharmacy manager and co-owner. “It also allows naloxone to be dispensed to family members, friends, or anyone that may be in the position to help an individual at risk of an overdose.”

As an opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone, when administered, “displaces opioids from these receptors and reverses their effects,” Wu said, adding that “Naloxone has no potential for abuse because it is an antagonist and stops the body’s opioid receptors from being activated. Since these receptors are not being activated, the euphoric effects that can be seen with opioid abuse are never achieved.”

Wu said that the rescue kits come with two doses of naloxone that are administered nasally. “A single spray of one dose is instilled into one nostril, which can be repeated after two to three minutes if there is no response or if the response is minimal.”

He added that “911 should still be called because often the duration of action of the opioid will be longer than that of naloxone. The first dose of naloxone should be given, followed by an immediate phone call to 911. Then if needed, the second dose of naloxone can be given.”

He called fentanyl, increasingly mixed into street drugs because of its cheap cost and cited as a main factor in the ongoing rise in overdose deaths, as “a synthetic opioid that is very potent. Because of this, multiple doses of naloxone may be needed to counteract an overdose.”

Wu said Springfield Pharmacy donated the costs associated with the 60 naloxone nasal kits in order to increase the accessibility of the medication to those who may be in need.

“Because of the nature of recovery and addiction, it is very difficult to anticipate relapse,” he added. “We should all do our part to help support the individual and make sure they have access to treatment.”