Local efforts to prevent drug overdose deaths could get a boost, if Congress passes new legislation to expand funding to such programs.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced a bill that would make funding available to community organizations and public health agencies to buy and distribute naloxone, or Narcan. That’s a life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose on prescription painkillers or heroin.
Rhode Island has a few programs that provide Narcan to people at risk of overdosing. But their funding isn’t always secure. One program, Preventing Overdose and Naloxone Intervention, or PONI, run by Miriam Hospital, relies on volunteers and in-kind donations to distribute Narcan for free. PONI head Michelle McKenzie says dedicated federal funding would allow them to broaden those efforts. That could include distributing Narcan to people re-entering the community after being incarcerated. McKenzie says overdose is their number one cause of death.