Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: February 23, 2016
NEW CASTLE (Feb. 23, 2016) - The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has received a new donation of 2,000 cartons of the overdose-reversing medication naloxone from kaleo, the Richmond, Va., company that manufactures the auto-injector kits called EVZIO.
This is the second naloxone donation that DHSS has received from kaleo. In the wake of a growing number of overdose deaths, DHSS and atTAcK addiction - a grassroots advocacy group in Delaware - helped to facilitate the original donation of 2,000 cartons in August 2015. The donation will resupply school nurses in high schools, first responders, medication-assistance treatment centers and the state's Syringe Exchange Program. Each carton contains two auto-injector units and a training device.
In 2014, a total of 189 people died from suspected overdoses in Delaware, according to statistics reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That means about one person died every other day from an overdose. Many of the overdoses were the result of heroin, fentanyl or prescription painkillers, which can be reversed by administering naloxone.
"We are grateful to kaleo for renewing its generous donation because we know it will help save more lives in our state," Gov. Jack Markell said. "The first step in the disease of addiction is to save the life. Then we can work with individuals to get them the treatment they need in order to live full, healthy lives."
"At kaleo, our goal has always been to get our potentially life-saving products into the hands of anybody who might need them. The kaleo Cares Product Donation program is one of many tools we utilize to get EVZIO into the hands of those who might not otherwise have access," said Spencer Williamson, President and CEO of kaleo. "Since initiating the program in October 2014, our donated EVZIO auto-injectors have helped save an average of nearly 10 lives per week. We take great pride in the program and are excited that DHSS is utilizing the donated product in such a broad, effective manner."
In 2014, Gov. Markell signed two pieces of legislation expanding the use of naloxone. One allows for wider use in the community, and the other allows for voluntary use among law enforcement departments. More than 1,500 community members have been trained to use naloxone. And six police departments - New Castle County, Elsmere, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna and Ocean View - have been trained to administer naloxone and all have police officers carrying the antidote. All six departments have reversed overdoses using naloxone, including Newark's Master Cpl. Marc DiFrancesco who saved three people from overdoses during a 24-hour period beginning on Christmas Eve.
In April 2015, a Senate resolution allowing for the expanded use of naloxone among school nurses passed both houses of the General Assembly. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, provides for the expanded use beginning this fall.
Dr. Linda C. Wolfe, director of School Support Services in the Department of Education, said the continued use of naloxone by school nurses in Delaware' high schools is important. "I am unaware of any deaths occurring in a school due to overdose - anywhere in the nation," Wolfe said. "However, given the rate of overdose and death in Delaware, we are supporting DHSS' proactive outreach to community partners who work with vulnerable populations." Naloxone is considered a safe medication and will not cause further harm to an individual who receives it."
AtTAcK addiction said the focus needs to be on saving lives.
"atTAcK addiction is extremely grateful to see kaleo, Inc., continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Services in making another substantial donation of the life-saving medication, EVZIO," said David Humes, a founding member of atTAcK addiction. "The original intent was for the donation to be used to induce law enforcement to carry naloxone. The program has expanded to community access, school nurses and needle exchange programs. It is already documented that lives have been saved by the initial donation. More Delawareans will be saved by the recent donation. Where there is life, there is hope."
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.
DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf, who has been trained to use naloxone and carries a nasal spray kit, thanked kaleo for the renewed auto-injector donation.
"This new donation allows us to fan out the supply of naloxone to more corners of the state," Secretary Landgraf said. "We know the likelihood is strong that these auto-injector kits will save more lives, and, in turn, allow us to connect many of those individuals to the treatment they need to fight to this disease. We are extremely grateful to kaleo for this generous donation."
The EVZIO donation is a short-term boost to naloxone supplies across the state because the units have an expiration date of August 2016. By then, Secretary Landgraf said, she hopes other options to expand the availability of naloxone will be successful.
The market rate for EVZIO is about $490 per carton.
If you are struggling with addiction, call DHSS' 24/7 Crisis Services at 1-800-652-2929 in New Castle County. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. For prevention, treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states, go to HelpIsHereDE.com.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Photos of the EVZIO unit are available for download at DHSS' flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deldhss/albums/72157657715501406
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.