Schweitzer Fellows Fight for Naloxone Accessibility in Columbus
Naloxone has been proven to save lives, but the opioid overdose antidote isn’t always in the right place at the right time. Emma Siegel and Abby Block are on a mission to change that.
The College of Pharmacy P2 students launched the Opioid Overdose Response Task Force as part of their Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a program that provides opportunities to health-focused graduate and professional students to design and implement a public health-based project in their community.
“Emma and I designed our project around fostering community conversation about how and where to get naloxone, and why the community needs more people to carry it,” Block said. “Some of the statistics in Franklin County are pretty harrowing, and by educating different populations on how to get it, we hope to increase the number of people who carry naloxone.”
In collaboration with SafePoint, a harm-reduction program through Equitas Health in Columbus, and under the mentorship of Jennifer Rodis, PharmD, BCPS, FAPhA, assistant dean of outreach and engagement at COP, Siegel and Block have focused on the role pharmacies play in dispensing naloxone. They surveyed pharmacies in and around Franklinton – an area west of downtown Columbus which is particularly hard-hit by the opioid epidemic – and found that on average they dispensed only 2.5 naloxone kits each month.
“There is a lot of discussion in pharmacy about the importance of naloxone accessibility,” Block said. “In Ohio especially, protocols allow pharmacies to provide naloxone without prescriptions to anyone who asks for it. . . . It seems that for all the work done to expand access, people weren’t using pharmacies as much as they could to address overdose.”
Siegel and Block set out to educate the community about addiction and overdose so they could break down the associated stigmas and increase the usage of naloxone.
Read more about their efforts HERE.