PROMO Health - Naloxone NARCAN Opioid Drug - iStock - NewGig86

Arizona to receive 55,000 units of opioid overdose reversal drug

© iStock - NewGig86
Cameron Arcand

(The Center Square) – As the opioid crisis rages on nationwide, Arizona's Attorney General's office announced that they're buying 55,000 units of naloxone for Pima County and other more rural counties.

Naloxone is the drug sometimes under the brand name Narcan, and it's intended to "reverse" an opioid overdose.

Pima County – which has Arizona's second-largest city, Tucson – is getting 3,000 units. Yuma County is receiving 900 units, Navajo and Mohave counties are receiving 1,200 units, and Gila County is getting 700 units.

PROMO Map - Arizona State Map - iStock - klenger

© iStock - klenger

“The option of ordering naloxone means that we can help prevent overdoses, especially as one fentanyl pill can kill,” Mayes said in a statement Tuesday. “By getting this life-saving drug to our county health departments, and directly into the hands of our communities, we’re going to save lives. Too many families in our state have been shattered by the opioid epidemic. States like Arizona are holding the pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers that perpetuated this crisis accountable.”

The units are part of the massive nationwide Teva Pharmaceuticals settlement, as the company will now have to give states naloxone for "up to 10 years" as an alternative to cash, but Arizona will also get $85 million paid out over 13 years as part of the settlement, according to a news release.

Francisco García, deputy county administrator and chief medical officer for Pima County, said in a statement that the drug plays in an important role in preventing overdose deaths when the public has access to them.

“Harm reduction strategies are a cornerstone of Pima County’s response to the flood of fentanyl in our community and the larger national opioid crisis. Narcan in particular is the most effective tool we can put into the hands of the public to save lives and prevent overdose deaths," Garcia said. "The 3,000 doses of Narcan we will receive this summer are a critical boost to the efforts of our community partners and our Health Department. We are grateful to Attorney General Mayes for making this life-saving drug available.”

Meanwhile, other health officials said that they will want naloxone available in crucial places such as educational institutions and with first responders.

PROMO Health - Drugs Pills Fentanyl Opioids Syringe Crime - iStock - Darwin Brandis

© iStock - Darwin Brandis

"While we know there is no single solution to this problem, getting a lifesaving medication like Naloxone into the hands of those that need it most, is a commitment to safety, and a critical strategy in preventing future opioid overdoses," Diana Gomez, Yuma County’s health district director, said in a statement.

"The Yuma County Public Health Services District will continue to work closely with our community partners to ensure that Naloxone is available to schools, first responders, and community partners experienced in responding to people in crisis," Gomez added.

The Arizona Department of Health Services estimates that over five people die daily from an opioid overdose in the state, and there have been 1,593 "confirmed opioid deaths" this year.