The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS) Division of Public Health DPH) will allow that state’s residents to access Naloxone free by mail.
In an announcement on Friday, DPH said increasing access to naloxone is critical to reducing overdose deaths, especially as more people are struggling with anxiety, depression, and financial stress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic also makes in-person support and treatment more challenging due to social distancing, the department said.
Mail-order naloxone is available through a Memorandum of Understanding between DHSS and NEXT Distro – a New York-based harm-reduction non-profit operating in 35 states to distribute free naloxone to 16,000 households since 2018.
Also known by its name-brand Narcan, naloxone is an opioid antagonist that works to reverse the effects of opioids in an overdose situation.
“DPH’s agreement with NEXT Distro could not come at a better time,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Delaware is experiencing a simultaneous increase in COVID-19 cases and drug overdose deaths. Those who need naloxone the most can now order it privately and conveniently, avoiding any stigma that could be a barrier to accessing the life-saving medication. Holding outside distribution events is also becoming more challenging because of the cold weather, making this an ideal option to get naloxone in the hands of those who need it the most.”
Between the beginning of this year and early December, Delaware has seen 316 suspected overdose deaths, more than the number of suspected overdose deaths for the same period in 2019. Officials expect that number to grow and exceed the 431 overdose deaths the state saw in 2019.
“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult for all of us mentally and emotionally, but none more so than Delawareans struggling with addiction, mental illness, or both,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “Because the holidays can add to that existing stress level and may be a trigger point for people with substance use disorder, this new initiative is coming at a particularly critical time. Families in our state can best help their struggling loved ones by ordering naloxone and connecting them to treatment.”
In Delaware, those who want mail-order naloxone can place an order for it on the “Overdose Prevention” page on HelpIsHereDE.com and access NEXT Distro’s Delaware program. Consumers must watch a short video and take a short quiz before completing a request form. DHS then receives the request via NEXT Distro’s virtual platform and will mail individuals free naloxone.
Consumers can also receive naloxone without a prescription at pharmacies, as well as at overdose prevention training and naloxone distribution events.