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Delaware Health and Social Services

DHSS Press Release

Date: September 9, 2015

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498


NEW CASTLE (Sept. 9, 2015) - The Department of Health and Social Services has received the first reports of people in Delaware overdosing on opiates and being revived by community members who administered the overdose-reversing medication naloxone themselves.

Individuals who participate in the state's Syringe Exchange Program in Wilmington, coordinated by Brandywine Counseling, are receiving auto-injector naloxone units through a donation by kaleo, the Richmond, Va., company that manufactures the medication called Evzio. Participants are trained by Brandywine Counseling staff on how to use the naloxone.

"Heroin and the misuse of prescription painkillers are so dangerous that in order to connect people to treatment for their addiction, sometimes we must save their lives first," DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf said. "The new community naloxone bill, which Governor Markell signed into law last summer, is giving people in Delaware the opportunity to save their loved ones lives. Our hope is that people in the throes of addiction will now embrace treatment for their disease and the opportunity for a lasting recovery."

In June 2014, Gov. Markell signed into law a bill expanding the use of naloxone by members of the community who take a training class in how to administer it. Almost 300 people, including Secretary Landgraf, have been trained to use an intranasal spray version of naloxone and carry the medication with them to save the life of a loved one or friend in the event of an overdose.

Domenica Personti, Brandywine Counseling's director of adolescent services and prevention, said in the first case happened on Aug. 30, when a Syringe Exchange Program client saved a friend's life who had overdosed. The client was "so grateful to have been offered the training and medication in order to save her friend's life," Personti said. Brandywine Counseling refilled her naloxone prescription.

On Sept. 7, Personti said a second client of the Syringe Exchange Program used the auto-injector naloxone unit to revive her girlfriend after she overdosed. Both women were expected to come into Brandywine Counseling to be assessed for treatment services, Personti said.

"By expanding naloxone access, we have equipped individuals with a life-saving tool in response to the terrible outcome often associated with opiate use," Personti said. "Because of this, two individuals were able to go home to their loved ones."

In the wake of a growing number of overdose deaths, DHSS and atTAcK addiction, a grassroots advocacy group in Delaware, helped to facilitate the donation earlier this year of 2,000 naloxone units from kaleo. The donation went to addiction treatment centers like Brandywine Counseling, participating police departments and school nurses in Delaware's high schools.

"atTAcK addiction is extremely grateful that our partnership with DHSS is saving lives," said David Humes, one of the group's founding members. "The Kristen L. Jackson and John M. Perkins Jr. 911 Good Samaritan Law and complementary expanded naloxone laws do save lives. We will continue to advocate for effective policy changes that will increase and expand treatment options for those suffering with substance use disorder. Where there is life, there is hope of recovery from the disease of addiction."

Brandywine Counseling's next community naloxone training class is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, at Stubbs Elementary School, 110 N. Pine St., Wilmington. Subsequent sessions are at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, at New Castle County Police Department Headquarters, 3601 N. DuPont Highway, New Castle; and at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Ocean View Police Department, 201 Central Ave., Ocean View.

In 2014, a total of 185 people died from suspected overdoses in Delaware, or about one person every other day. Many of those overdoses were the result of heroin or prescription painkillers, which can be reversed by administering naloxone. In addition to expanded use among police officers, community members and school nurses, Delaware paramedics also administer naloxone in overdose situations. In 2014, they administered it 1,244 times, reviving 668 people, according to the Division of Public Health. The antidote also is used in emergency rooms.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Last Updated: Wednesday September 09 2015
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