Utah has the seventh highest drug overdose rate in the United States.
Eighty percent of Heroin users started with prescription opioids.
Six Utahns die every week from opioid overdose.
These statistics are alarming, but because of the $40,000 philanthropic grant Roseman University received in August 2016 from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation to support Project NED (Naloxone Education & Distribution), the University was able to help fight to lower these numbers.
“Project NED gave the University the ability to expand awareness of the opioid epidemic, increase the availability of naloxone in the community, and save lives in the process,” said Danielle Gundrum, Roseman professor of pharmacy practice.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Naloxone is a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist—meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids. It can very quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped as a result of overdosing with heroin or prescription opioid pain medications.”
Over the past year, Project NED educated users about naloxone and distributed naloxone to members of the community who attended one of the approximately 20 separate educational sessions throughout the Salt Lake Valley at eight different treatment centers. Topics included the review of opioids/naloxone, the importance of calling emergency services upon use of naloxone kits, and where and how to get access to naloxone kits. Following the educational sessions, naloxone kits were distributed.
“Overall, 528 Kits were distributed and, to date, Project NED has received reports that eight kits have been used,” said Gundrum. While we believe this number to be underreported, it’s important to note that at least eight lives have been potentially saved with the help of Project NED.”
In addition to the outstanding results above, Project NED has also been able to form collaborative relationships with some of the treatment centers in the Salt Lake Valley and anticipates being involved with the centers in the future as experts to educate clients, staff and community members on other topics. The University plans to involve various student organizations on the Roseman University South Jordan Campus in these efforts.
“Faculty and students were able to observe the opioid epidemic first hand – which will only positively translate into the classroom and practice for our future pharmacists here at Roseman University,” said Gundrum. “Our project team is ecstatic that we were able to help potentially save 8 lives by providing naloxone kits to the community, but also saddened that the opioid epidemic is so severe here in Utah.”
Rachael Wadley, MBA
Roseman University of Health Sciences