Opioid Epidemic Continues in Virginia

In the 2019 Session, 16 bills were introduced to address substance abuse; most of them dealt with storing and administering naloxone. Naloxone is saving lives of those who overdose, but there is little being done to combat the actual opioid epidemic in Virginia that kills over 1,100 people per year.

Millions of dollars worth of naloxone has been distributed across Virginia in the past three years and, yet, evidence at every level says it’s not enough.

By the end of the year, regional EMS personnel across 31 localities in central Virginia are on pace to use more than 10,000 doses of naloxone in the past five years — greater than the number of people who have died from overdose in the state in the last decade.

The Virginia Department of Health has spent more than $1.9 million dispensing the drug since late 2016, almost three times what it spends on all other harm reduction services combined. Hospitals spend more on naloxone than any other drug when stocking EMS agencies’ drug boxes; emergency personnel in the 9,000-square-mile region that encompasses the Richmond area and stretches south to the state line administered a record 2,977 doses in 2018.

But figures through the first three months of 2019 show Virginia is on pace to record its highest opioid overdose death toll since it began tracking the grim figure in 2007.

Source: Richmond Times Dispatch