LUMBERTON — A program designed to get into the hands of local law enforcement officers a drug that can reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdose has reached Maxton.
That town in western Robeson County has received the Narcan kits, and other local law enforcement agencies are lining up to receive theirs.
Maxton police began carrying the kits on their belts on Oct. 27, Police Chief Tammy Deese said in a statement.
“Naloxone is administered by officers to treat and reduce the injury and fatality from opiate overdoses,” Deese said. “A policy and usage form was approved and adopted by the Board of Commissioners on Sept. 19 and officers have completed a four-hour training provided by Robeson Community College that included patient assessment, universal precautions, rescue breathing, seeking medical attention and the use of intra-nasal Naloxone.”
Narcan, also known as Naloxone, works by reversing the effects of opioids by temporarily binding to the same brain receptors as opioids, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Narcan comes in two forms, a nasal spray and intramuscular injection.
Maxton received 14 kits for 14 officers, said Patrick Cummings, Robeson County Emergency Medical Services director. The Narcan program is open to all law enforcement agencies in Robeson County.
Pembroke police have received the training and are up next to receive the kits, Cummings said. After Pembroke is the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Division and then the Fairmont Police Department. The Police and Public Safety Department at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke is writing a policy.
Leaders of the police departments in Lumberton, Parkton and St. Pauls have not contacted Cummings about the training or the Narcan kits.
“We’re offering it to all,” Cummings said.
The first kits were donated by Eastpointe, a managed care organization based in Beulaville.
“We’re hoping to find more free ones, but until that point each department is responsible for finding replacements, unless the county has more on hand,” Cummings said.
The county asked Eastpointe for a donation of 120 kits and received 80, he said. The county has asked Eastpointe for 100 more free kits.
“We haven’t had any confirmation on that,” Cummings said.
The N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition is a Narcan program partner with Robeson County, he said. The coalition is working with the county to get more free kits.
Another partner is Community Care of North Carolina. Billenna Richardson, a CCNC community organizer in Robeson County, has been active in the Narcan project.
“She’s been very, very proactive in getting the program started,” Cummings said.
A standing order, signed by North Carolina’s health director, states that any pharmacist practicing in the state of North Carolina and licensed by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy can dispense naloxone, or Narcan, to any person who meets certain criteria. It is up to each individual pharmacy to decide whether or not to dispense Naloxone under the statewide standing order or under a separate standing order.
Opioids are increasing becoming a recreational drug of choice, both because of their abundance and potency.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Human Health Services Secretary Mandy Cohen unveiled in June the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan. The plan includes actions to reduce oversupply of prescription opioids, increase community awareness and prevention and make Naloxone widely available. The plan was inspired by legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in June 2016.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.