The American Medical Association (AMA) and Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) are applauding a new state effort to provide free naloxone to community groups and others, a move that will decrease fatal opioid-related overdoses. The program was announced June 29 by Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., chief medical officer and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
“During the COVID pandemic, when states are facing budgetary challenges, this is a remarkable effort to help save lives,” said AMA Immediate Past President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “We are greatly concerned that the COVID pandemic has made the drug overdose and death epidemic worse because of increased isolation and reduced access to treatment and harm reduction services such as naloxone. We urge all states to follow Michigan’s lead make a similar commitment to expand access to naloxone.”
“MSMS appreciates the state’s proactive leadership to ensure Michiganders have readily available access to naloxone, a safe, effective antidote for reversal of an opioid overdose,” said MSMS President S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., who also is chair-elect of the AMA Board of Trustees. “In 2018, Michigan experienced 2,036 deaths from opioid-related overdoses leaving families and friends heartbroken. Community-based naloxone distribution has been shown to save lives.”
The MDHHS announcement said naloxone distribution is available to “any community organization statewide, including substance use treatment providers, non-profits, harm reduction organizations, jails, first responders, local governments and small businesses.” After reviewing distribution plans, approved organizations will receive as many as 12 naloxone kits by mail.
“While this type of community-based program will save lives, physicians must also continue to do our part,” Dr. Harris said. “As the nation’s opioid epidemic now is being fueled by more deadly and illicitly manufactured fentanyl and heroin, it is more important than ever for physicians to prescribe naloxone to patients at risk of overdose.”
Learn more about the AMA’s recommendations for physicians to prescribe naloxone.