Baltimore's naloxone supply dwindling as opioid overdose rates surge

The Baltimore City Health Department is running low on naloxone as the number of Marylanders overdosing on opioids continues to rise, says Health Commissioner Leana Wen, MD.

The health department has 4,000 doses of the opioid overdose antidote stockpiled for use in its needle exchange vans and community outreach programs through May 2018. Without rationing remaining supplies, the department could run out of the drug by the end of July, according to the report.

"Because of fentanyl, heroin, other prescription opioid drugs that are killing our residents, we need Narcan more than ever, and we don't simply have enough … We don't have the resources to purchase it," Dr. Wen told WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore. "Every day, I get dozens of calls from nonprofits, neighborhood associations, faith leaders who say they have people in their congregation overdosing and outside of their facilities … I have to say, 'I'm sorry. We don't have enough available."

Dr. Wen is calling on the state for more funding to restock naloxone supplies. Republican Governor Larry Hogan in March declared a state of emergency in Maryland, allocating $50 million in new funding over a five-year period to address the opioid epidemic.

"A significant part of addressing this crisis is addressing the shortage of the lifesaving drug, naloxone," Katie Kuehn, of the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Opioid Operational Command Center, told WBAL-TV 11. "As part of the first $10 million, funding will be available soon to local jurisdictions for the purchase of naloxone."

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