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    New Mexico Takes Big Step Against Opioid Epidemic

    New legislation could be a model for other states.

     

    In her research, Katzman has found that education and access to naloxone are vital to curb the opioid epidemic. At the UNM Pain Center, Katzman said that she and her team had “streamlined the process of naloxone education” to 15 to 20 minutes. This Joana KatzmanJoana Katzman, MDquick education, along with handing out naloxone, could prove valuable in reversing overdoses. She told Drug Topics that she hopes this program will reduce deaths from opioids by 10% to 15% in the next year because it would help people where they need it.

    However, while lawmakers praised the bill, some found aspects of it problematic, especially the lack of provided funding.  Police kits will be paid for with money allotted for each officer’s training and equipment. For all other kits the state hopes to fund the kits through grant funding. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reported, with naloxone kits each costing between $50 to $100, the bill would require $200,000 a year for full implantation at the state Corrections Department alone. This leaves small communities vulnerable, even with grant money. “Once the grant runs out, they don’t have it,” said Representative Bill Rehm (R), of Albuquerque.

    Katzman is optimistic that the grant money will come through. She says that she hopes that for-profit treatment centers will see the value of the program and contribute. Additionally, she said that many federally funded treatment centers in the state are already dispensing or providing a naloxone prescription, so complying with the new bill would not be as difficult as starting from scratch.

    Related article: How You Can Help Prevent Opioid Abuse

    Katzman hopes that this model will be passed to other states, much like other states have followed New Mexico’s lead in allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription. She said that she hopes to see naloxone in “every medicine cabinet in the country.”

    She added that pharmacists “can play a tremendous role” in fighting against the opioid epidemic. Pharmacists are “much more empowered than they might realize.” Education is a vital part of the recovery process, and she sees pharmacists playing a role. 

    Cover image: Governor Susana Martinez (R) speaks during the signing ceremony, Katzman stands on the right. Image provided by Joana Katzman.

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