Fla. county officials not renewing grant to get free naloxone

Miami County officials did not renew a state grant to receive free doses of naloxone, saying “overdoses are down significantly” in the area


By Carson Gerber
Kokomo Tribune

MIAMI COUNTY, Fla. — Miami County health officials are not renewing a state grant to receive free doses of naloxone, citing a decline in heroin and opioid overdoses in the city and county.

County Health Officer Rafik Farag informed the Indiana State Department of Health in September of the decision, saying county officials had discussed the issue with the county prosecutor. He said after reviewing recent arrest statistics, they have concluded "overdoses are down significantly in our county."

Miami County health officials are not renewing a state grant to receive free doses of naloxone, citing a decline in heroin and opioid overdoses in the city and county. (Photo/AP)
Miami County health officials are not renewing a state grant to receive free doses of naloxone, citing a decline in heroin and opioid overdoses in the city and county. (Photo/AP)

"While we realize that could change, we are reacting to the present atmosphere," Farag wrote in the letter.

The county has received free doses of the overdose-reversing drug for the last year after Miami County commissioners gave a green light to the county health department to register as a naloxone entity with the state. That allowed the county to distribute the drug and apply to receive free doses from the state health department.

The health department initially received from the state 250 free doses to distribute as part of a local effort to battle the area's opioid epidemic. The majority of those doses went to local first responders and other agencies.

Commissioners had approved the county health department to serve as a state naloxone entity for one year, after which they would review the program and decide whether to renew it.

Farag said that review revealed a decrease in opioid and heroin arrests and overdoses in the last few months.

He also said first responders, police and medical agencies currently have a substantial supply of naloxone on hand and are reporting that its use has "diminished commensurate with the reduction in opioid and heroin cases."

"We appreciate your willingness to provide Narcan, which has unquestionably saved lives in Miami County," Farag wrote to the state health department. "In the event that opioid and heroin use again increases, we will call on you for assistance."

County Health Nurse Marie Nichols, who is also listed on the letter to the state, said in an email that Narcan is still available at all pharmacies without a prescription for anyone who may need it.

She said the Peru Police Department and Miami County Sheriff's Department also have their own grants to obtain and supply officers with naloxone, as well as the county's emergency-management office.

Although opioid and heroin arrests are down, Farag told the state health department the number of meth arrests are up, saying "the street drug of choice in Miami County has long been methamphetamine."

Copyright 2018 Kokomo Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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