Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Vermont officials announced new measures Thursday to expand the availability of a drug that can counteract the effects of an opiate overdose. The drug can now be sold by any Vermont pharmacy without a prescription.

The drug is naloxone, which is often sold under the brand name Narcan, and it's already saving lives in Vermont. Health Commissioner Harry Chen said his department is distributing more and more doses.

“The health department now gives out about 700 doses per month throughout 12 distribution sites,” said Chen.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

CVS Health and pharmaceutical company Adapt Pharma have struck a deal to offer Narcan discounts to patients without insurance. Narcan is the opioid overdose rescue drug. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State police handed out supplies of Narcan, the overdose rescue drug, to municipal police departments from around Rhode Island Tuesday. Most first responders carry the drug, but not all police departments have stocked up. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s drug overdose epidemic has not abated. But there has been some progress in marshaling more resources to fight it. The General Assembly recently reinstated the Good Samaritan law, which protects people who call 911 for someone who’s overdosing. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders have died from drug overdoses this year – a number that has barely budged from last year, despite numerous state and other efforts to stop it. One of Governor Raimondo’s initiatives was to convene a task force to tackle this crisis. 

Katherine Doherty / RIPR

The group tasked with developing strategies to combat drug overdoses and deaths, is set to deliver recommendations to the Governor. The panel was created earlier this year to help combat the issue of opioid overdoses and deaths in the state.

Governor Raimondo said the group will outline strategies to curb the growing trend.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The price of a medication that can reverse a drug overdose has doubled over the past year. Now Rhode Island  will be getting a small break in the price of Narcan (the brand name for naloxone).               

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Can pharmacies play a bigger role to prevent death from drug overdose? That’s the question researchers from Rhode Island and Massachusetts hope to answer thanks to a new $1.3 million dollar federal grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

The team plans to figure out how pharmacies can promote the use of a drug called naloxone (sometimes called Narcan).

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has reinstated a task force charged with preventing drug overdose deaths. And she’s asking them for a plan to within 90 days. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A law meant to encourage people to call 911 when someone overdoses will expire July 1st. An effort to extend the Good Samaritan law failed to pass the General Assembly. Now, a chorus of disapproval is rising among public health advocates.

State officials wanted a shelf date on Rhode Island’s Good Samaritan law in case it had a negative impact on law enforcement. The state attorney general says the law has barred officers from charging people with drug crimes in some cases. But National Network for Public Health Law spokesman Corey Davis said repealing the law could cost lives.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Note: I've added a point about the Good Samaritan law, thanks to comments from readers. It's up for consideration now at the Statehouse.

A group of state and federal leaders gathered yesterday for a roundtable discussion on Rhode Island's seemingly intractable drug overdose crisis. Present for that discussion: Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), health dept. director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, behavioral health dept. director Maria Montanaro, Gov. Gina Raimondo, and head of the state police, Col. Steven O'Donnell. Reporters were invited to listen in, then ask a few questions.

Kristin / RIPR

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) has introduced legislation to make the overdose antidote drug Narcan more widely available nationwide. The legislation would make funding available to community organizations to distribute the drug and provide training.  Reed says it does not address the cost of Narcan, which has more than doubled over the past few years.

The House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare took up a bill Wednesday to require schools to stock the anti-overdose drug naloxone.

Commonly referred to as Narcan, naloxone can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

The drug been hailed as a crucial tool in the fight against what health officials have termed an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

School nurse teachers in Rhode Island say they need to have an opioid overdose rescue drug called Narcan on hand in schools. That’s one of several findings of a first-ever survey of school nurses about the use of opioids like prescription painkillers in schools and experiences with overdoses in schools. Overdose educator and University of Rhode Island pharmacy professor Jef Bratberg presented the findings. He says it’s not surprising that schools are affected.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), has introduced legislation that's designed to provide some incentives and resources for states to develop more addiction treatment and prevention programs. It's called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014, and here are a few of its provisions, according to a news release from the Senator's office: