A collaboration between the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute, AETNA Better Health of West Virginia and the Vandalia Health Network will provide emergency opioid response boxes and naloxone throughout the state.
Opioid Naloxone Emergency Box, or ONEbox, overdose reversal kits, containing two doses of the opioid reversal medication naloxone, will be provided upon request to public schools and federally qualified health centers in West Virginia.
During a news conference Thursday at the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute office in Charleston, representatives from the organizations also announced efforts to increase training and education on overdose response in every county in the state.
Susan Bissett, president of the institute, said this partnership and delivering lifesaving ONEboxes and increasing overdose response training will benefit the state in many ways.
“I think it’s an opportunity, number one, to eliminate the stigma surrounded with overdose, increase the likelihood that a bystander will respond because they have this training and the mechanism to make them comfortable in doing so — and obviously save lives,” she said.
This collaboration is being launched with assistance from the University of Charleston and the West Virginia Primary Care Association. ONEboxes have already been distributed to 19 federally qualified health centers covering 30 counties in the state, as well as to 45 schools in 31 counties and are available on every college campus in West Virginia. ONEboxes are also available to any public library in the state that requests them; already, more than 50 libraries have opted in throughout the state.
“We, to date, have already started this work, thanks to our partners, and so this is a new announcement and a new project,” Bissett said. “These numbers are very impactful for where we’re at in the process right now.”
ONEbox kits are self-contained and are on-demand video-enabled with personal protective equipment. They were invented by West Virginia native and entrepreneur Joe Murphy.
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The video training talks users through how to respond to an overdose before EMS arrives — not only how to administer the medication.
“[It’s] so that we can increase the likelihood that we’re saving more lives,” Bissett said. “There’s also a long form training mode in the box that allows you to train people within a business or organization, so that everyone within the community has the opportunity to be trained on the naloxone.”
ONEboxes are intended to hold intranasal naloxone, putting the lifesaving medication in proximity where an overdose is likely to occur, Bissett said. ONEbox is managed and distributed by the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute, a 501©(3) nonprofit organization based in Charleston. The institute’s mission is to reduce overdose deaths in the state, Appalachia and the nation through education and outreach. So far, the institute has distributed ONEboxes in 40 states.
Those interested in requesting ONEboxes may call the WVDII at 681-205-2287 or email Kenny Matthews, ONEbox outreach coordinator for the institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am overwhelmed the way this has evolved,” Bissett said. “I really started this work a couple of years ago wanting to get these boxes and naloxone on college campuses, mainly because I had worked in higher education for 25 years, and then it became really important to expand that work to other areas where we know overdoses are already likely to occur.”
Drug overdoses caused by fentanyl are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, though younger people are particularly vulnerable, according to Bissett.
“Recent research indicates that fentanyl is involved in more American youth deaths than heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, benzodiazepines and prescription drugs combined,” Bissett said. “We are pleased that AETNA Better Health of West Virginia and Vandalia Health Network support naloxone training and access for populations most at-risk for overdose.”
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