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State legislators, Kaleo announce grant to high schools to prevent opioid overdose deaths

Thursday, State Senators Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, Jim McClendon, R-Springville, and Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, along with representatives from Kaleo, Inc., held a press conference today at the State Capitol to brief reporters on the success of phase one and to announce phase two of an effort to combat the opioid crisis in Alabama.

Kaleo Pharmaceuticals provided every rescue squad truck in the state with an EVZIO device. Naloxone injections can save the lives of a person experiencing the effects of an overdose.

In just the first four months of having the devices handy, they were used seventeen times by the rescue squads. Fifteen lives were saved just since the month of May.

Sen. McClendon said, “Since we started this less than 4 months ago 15 Alabamians deaths have been prevented, averaging one a week. Now these devices are going in all AL high schools, both public and private. They cannot be rehabilitated if they die from an overdose.”

Sen. Dial said that the easy to use auto injector devices are not a cure for the opioid epidemic.

“It’s an epidemic that continues to grow,” Sen. Dial said. “I don’t have a solution to that at this time. So what we gotta do is slow it down and take care of those and give them a second chance and get them in some training. It’s impacting on our economy so bad that we can’t get employees hired because they can’t pass a drug test.”

“Opioid abuse continues to be one of the most critical issues our society faces — over 49,000 Americans died last year from opioid overdoses,” Dial said. “This affects every family in Alabama, and we need law enforcement agencies, schools, churches, and private companies to come together to rid this scourge from our state.”

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Kaleo has saved fifteen Alabamians lives in only four months by their donation of the EVZIO devices to the rescue squads. Kaleo is stepping up again, this time by proving EVZIO devices to every high school in the state free of charge.

“This would be a great tool for schools to have,” Dial said.

A high school that wants one, needs to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). ADPH will then train one employee in how to use the device and one will be provided for that trained employee (presumably the school nurse) to use.

The Alabama Political Reporter has attended the training with the rescue squads and the EVZIO is very easy to understand and use.

“Addicts do not intend to become addicted,” McClendon said when the grant award was announced. “There was no intention to forego their families, jobs, and friends. Addicts often gain their addiction via legally prescribed pain kills, opioids in particular, while others become addicted by recreational use of addictive drugs.”

“Increasing access to naloxone is one tool the Alabama Department of Public Health *ADPH) is using to stem the tide of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the ‘Worst drug overdose epidemic’ in United States history,” State Health Office Dr. Scott Harris said. “In December 2016, ADPH issued a standing order to ensure the availability of naloxone to any person who is at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose, or to an individual in a position to assist someone at risk of experiencing such an overdose.”

Naloxone is available to the general public if you or someone in your family has an opioid dependency problem. The EVZIO is available through your local pharmacy. The suggested retail cost for one unit is $3000; but talk with your pharmacist about potential discounts.

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“In Alabama, pharmacists may dispense naloxone to patients or family members based on a standing order signed by the Director of the State Department of Public Health,” Susan Alverson said.

When first responders respond to an overdose, you simply remove the protective cover, hold the EVZIO device to the thigh of the victim and push the button to inject the naloxone. Every EVZIO is equipped with a speaker that gives instructions on how to use the device.

If the patient does not respond or slips back into unconsciousness administer the second dose three to five minutes later. Every EVZIO unit comes with a trainer device that does not include a needle or medicine and can be reused to practice the injection process.

“Drugs legally prescribed that become diverted and entering the drug underworld are frequently tainted so that neither dosage nor potency is known,” McClendon said. “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and commonly used to lace diverted drugs. Fentanyl is prescribed in micrograms, while opioids are prescribed in milligrams. When lacing opioids with a drug 100 times more powerful, the anticipated high can lead to overdose and all to frequently death.”

McClendon is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee.

“Treatment and recovery is one of the strategies to help the addicted,” McClendon said. “Addicts can return to a normal life, and once again have a family, a job, friends, and self-esteem. Recovery from the abyss of addiction is not easy but it can be done. But the addict must survive the overdose. Preventing these fatalities allows the option of treatment and recovery.”

“Kaleo Pharma has already saved over 5,000 lives across our nation, their gift to Alabama today will save thousands of Alabamian families the loss and heartache associated from opioid overdoses,” Dial said.
“I want to personally thank Kaleo for their willingness to provide these life-saving devices to our state,” McClendon said.

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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.



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