Today, on International Overdose Awareness and Prevention Day, healthcare organization CareOregon announced a new partnership with Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties to urgently deliver thousands of doses of the overdose reversal drug naloxone and other harm reduction supplies to community settings. With a $3 million investment from CareOregon, the partners aim to distribute 20,000 doses of nasal naloxone and 20,000 of harm reduction kits beginning this fall.
“We’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of overdoses in our community, largely due to the increase of fentanyl in local drug supplies,” said Stacie Andoniadis, Substance Use Disorder Program manager for CareOregon “By working with the counties, we hope to quickly get supplies to people in need and those who serve them. Our goal is to continue the conversation about the dangers of fentanyl, overdose prevention and safer use strategies.”
Fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Oregon increased 600% between 2019 and 2021, according toa review of unintentional drug overdose and death certificate data by the Oregon Health Authority. The surge in fentanyl fatalities is driving overall overdose rates to the highest levels ever seen.
“What it comes down to is that we need to eliminate the stigma of drug use. We need more community education about how to prevent and respond to overdoses, and we need more overdose reversal supplies in the hands of those who might need them,” said Multnomah County’s Harm Reduction Program Manager Kelsi Junge. “This partnership with CareOregon aims to help us do just that. For us to start to turn the tide on overdose deaths in our community, we need to have supplies in every setting someone might turn to—from emergency rooms to community settings that serve youth and families.”
To help get supplies out as quickly as possible, the CareOregon grant will be dispersed to Multnomah County, which will distribute supplies to Washington and Clackamas counties. The three counties are partnering with safety-net clinics, first responders, emergency departments, community-based organizations and schools.
The organizations aim to get supplies out beginning this fall. CareOregon and the counties will announce further details, including where community members can access these live saving supplies when they are available.