Harm Reduction Ohio’s online program will fill in for cancelled events, closed programs
DeWine administration promises to supply all Narcan needed during crisis
Harm Reduction Ohio will ensure that Narcan and other harm reduction supplies are available throughout Ohio during the coronavirus shutdowns.
Harm Reduction Ohio will operate a statewide online naloxone ordering service all day, every day, to serve as a back-up for all local health departments and other providers who may need to interrupt naloxone distribution to protect the public health.
The Ohio Department of Health has agreed to supply sufficient Narcan to Harm Reduction Ohio’s online ordering service to meet consumer demand for Narcan, a drug that reverses opiate overdoses. Harm Reduction Ohio is a member of the Ohio Department of Health’s Project DAWN (Deaths Avoided With Naloxone) program.
Online orders will be processed promptly and mailed at no cost within 48 hours to Ohio residents who need Narcan. HRO’s online program focuses on providing Narcan to people who use drugs plus friends, family, co-workers and others in direct contact with the at-risk population.
The program’s online address is: harmreductionohio.org/get-naloxone/
Fears have grown that the coronavirus response could be deadly for people in drug treatment and people in active use. Most drug treatment programs limit the number of doses of Suboxone, methadone and other opioid treatments that people may take home. This could force people off their medicines and into sudden detox or renewed opioid use.
At the same time, health departments, syringe programs and other providers of Narcan may temporarily close or scale back to limit coronavirus infections. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that people obtain extra medicine and do so online if possible. However, this is not practical for people with substance abuse problems.
DeWine applauded for online naloxone effort
The Ohio Department of Health is developing a plan to ensure that people who use drugs or are in treatment don’t lose access to services needed to keep them alive. Harm Reduction Ohio’s online naloxone service will protect the state’s Narcan supply.
“We’re grateful to Gov. Mike DeWine and his health department for not forgetting about the overdose epidemic or the needs of people at risk of overdose death,” said Dennis Cauchon, president of Harm Reduction Ohio. “This is a scary and complicated situation for a state in the middle of a terrible overdose epidemic.”
Naloxone distribution events have been cancelled throughout Ohio. Many local Project DAWN programs are temporarily suspending or scaling back services. “The CDC recommends ordering medicines online, and Ohio is fortunate to have our large statewide online naloxone program to depend on,” Cauchon said.
In February, Harm Reduction Ohio distributed 1,105 naloxone kits, including 730 kits mailed to people who ordered online. Harm Reduction Ohio’s online program has fulfilled orders 73 of Ohio’s 88 counties so far.
Steps Taken to Keep Online Program Going
To keep online naloxone flowing, Harm Reduction Ohio has created its own emergency plan, including the creation of a second fulfillment site in Mansfield, Ohio. This site will support Harm Reduction Ohio’s existing fulfillment center, located above the River Road Coffee Shop in Granville, a central Ohio village.
“If one of our employees or volunteers tests positive for coronavirus, we want to be able to keep distributing naloxone from the other location. We’re washing our hands like people’s lives are depending on it, which, in fact, they are. Ohioans cannot lose access to naloxone in the middle of an overdose epidemic, especially since the response to the coronavirus problem will likely last weeks or months,” Cauchon said.
Details of our online naloxone service
Harm Reduction Ohio’s naloxone service offers requesters Narcan or generic intramuscular naloxone, which is injected into a large muscle such as the thigh or upper arm. Both are equally effective.
Harm Reduction Ohio currently gets Narcan that is purchased with a federal State Opioid Response grant overseen by the Ohio Department of Health. The intramuscular naloxone is provided by donation from DirectRelief, a pharmaceutical industry charity program.
The online ordering system was created by NEXT Distro, a harm reduction organization based in New York that operates the naloxoneforall.org online ordering service across the country. Harm Reduction Ohio is the Ohio affiliate of naloxoneforall.org.
“Online naloxone ordering is a great invention. It lets people order naloxone privately, confidentially, at anytime, from anywhere — and at a much lower cost than traditional distribution,” Cauchon said. “We support direct delivery of naloxone, but that’s hard to do in a big state like Ohio with many rural areas. We didn’t anticipate how valuable it would be during a pandemic. But it is.”