ROCHESTER, Minn. - Experts are stressing the importance of learning to administer Naloxone as concern grows over opioid misuse and fentanyl-laced street drugs.
This week the Rochester Police Department seized approximately 6,000 oxycodone pills they say could be related to recent overdose deaths in Olmsted County. RPD says the pills are being tested to determine whether they are laced with fentanyl, a potent and often deadly opioid.
Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan, has been used to treat overdose in emergency situations since the 1970's. It is one of first responders' greatest tools in preventing deaths from opioids, but has to be administered quickly in order to be effective.
"You only have about six minutes when somebody stops breathing to give them a medication to prevent organ damage, including your brain," said Dr. Casey Clements, an emergency physician with Mayo Clinic. "So having Naloxone on hand in the home for people who are on higher doses of opioids, or for family and friends of people who have opioid use disorder is really important."
Dr. Clements says Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service administered 137 doses of Naloxone in our community last year, and 855 doses across the Midwest. He adds while federal data on opioid misuse and overdose during 2020 has yet to be released, researchers believe use of opioids and other drugs has increased significantly during the pandemic.
"2019 was actually one of the first years that we saw a little bit of potential improvement within this epidemic. It was like the first glimmer of hope in at least 15 years, and then the pandemic came along, and now there's published articles that are showing that the rate of opioid use is going up," Clements told KIMT.
Dr. Clements says a widespread coalition of experts and community members are working diligently to make Naloxone readily available.
"Mayo Clinic, as well as multiple community organizations, as well as the board of pharmacy in Minnesota, are doing everything that they can to make Naloxone easily available to have on hand," Dr. Clements said.
Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam of Rochester, MN, along with other community partners, held a Narcan education and distribution event Thursday. Organizers say they plan on continuing to do so monthly through May.