Contact: Woody Maglinger
HAZARD, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2017) – Gov. Matt Bevin today joined Aetna representatives and state and local officials at Hazard City Hall to announce a partnership that will provide 360 doses of Narcan to first responders in Eastern Kentucky to help prevent opioid overdose-related deaths.
"We are grateful to Aetna for their generous donation in support of Kentucky's fight against the opioid epidemic," said Gov. Bevin. "We don't have the luxury of pretending there isn't a problem, and Aetna is helping us address this issue head on. Every single life has value and is worth saving. It is up to all of us to work together and find real, long-lasting solutions."
The kits, donated by Aetna, include two doses of nasal spray Narcan, also known as naloxone, and a pamphlet with directions on how to use it. When administered after an overdose, naloxone can counteract the life-threatening effects of opioid drugs and keep individuals who have overdosed alive until emergency medical help arrives.
“First responders are on the frontlines of this epidemic, and we need to support them any way we can,” said Dr. Dan Knecht, head of clinical strategy for Aetna. “By providing Narcan and training, we would like to further empower all those who do such an outstanding job—safeguarding our communities, protecting our loved ones and neighbors, and potentially granting those impacted firsthand by opioids a second chance at life and the opportunity to receive long-term treatment and support they need.”
In 2016 in Kentucky, heroin was a factor in 456 fatal overdoses, and the opioid fentanyl contributed to 623 overdose deaths, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.
“Our first responders are an essential line of defense against the opioid epidemic that is raging our nation and especially our region,” said Sen. Brandon Smith, who represents Perry, Bell, Breathitt, Johnson, Leslie and Magoffin counties. “It was an honor to participate in this event alongside Gov. Bevin and Dr. Knecht, and I know this access to Narcan will save lives in Eastern Kentucky’s fight against drug abuse.”
“The opioid crisis has devastated families in every part of Eastern Kentucky, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up,” said Rep. Chris Fugate, who represents Perry and Harlan Counties. “Eastern Kentucky is full of strong people, and I’m proud of our ability to come together in times of need. Our communities need all the help they can get to treat overdose victims, and I’m thankful to Gov. Bevin, Aetna, and local officials for their dedication to help those who have fallen victim to the drug epidemic.”
Gov. Bevin also participated in a training demonstration today, led by Dr. Knecht, on how to administer naloxone.
Kentucky launched a public awareness campaign in July 2017 highlighting the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse and offering information on drug treatment and naloxone. The campaign’s central message, “Don’t Let Them Die,” urges residents to help friends, family and communities overcome the crisis.
Download a photo from today's event here.