More than 50,000 people in Massachusetts are now trained in administering an overdose-reversing drug, according to a top public health official who said training in the life-saving treatment accelerated in the first half of last year.
Naloxone, which sometimes goes by the brand name Narcan, is a front-line defense against the scourge of opioid addiction because it reverses potentially fatal overdoses. Massachusetts officials, who have given a priority to opioid addiction, have aimed to make Narcan more available.
"Over 7,000 people were trained in the use of Naloxone in the first six months of 2016. This reflects a 40 percent increase over the same time-period in 2015, and now over 50,000 people in Massachusetts are trained in this life-saving antidote," Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel told the Public Health Council on Wednesday. "Over 1,500 overdose rescue reports –- each a life saved –- were received in the first six months of 2016. This is a 21 percent increase from the same time-period in 2015."
According to previously released Department of Public Health data, there were about 1,500 opioid overdose deaths in 2015.
Bharel said more than 1,700 sober home beds were certified in 2016, and Massachusetts has connected with 26 states -– including New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island -– to share patient prescription data, and information exchange intended to identify and reduce abuse of prescription drugs.
In October a change in law required prescribers to search the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool, or MassPAT, before issuing prescriptions for certain narcotics. Bharel said there have been nearly 2 million searches conducted to date on MassPAT, which launched in August