Update: Governor Mike Pence, on September 22nd, has directed the ISDH to move forward on the following initiative, which was introduced at the Governor's Task Force on Drug Enforement, Treatment and Prevention Tuesday afternoon.
Late last month, law enforcement officials in southern Indiana’s Jennings County responded to approximately a dozen drug overdoses in a single day, completely depleting the county’s reserve of the antidote compound naloxone. Emergency workers in Indianapolis quickly helped the county out, but the state health department wants to make sure the situation won’t happen again.
Indiana Deputy Health Commissioner Jennifer Walthall says she’s seen similar cases since that day in August. She says often an illicit drug shipment will arrive in a town, get distributed quickly, and leave law enforcement dealing with many simultaneous overdoses.
Indiana already stockpiles some medical supplies in strategic locations around the state so they’re ready to be deployed in case of a public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack or earthquake. The new program will utilize that existing framework in case a need for naloxone unexpectedly arises.
Before the end of the year, the state department of health plans to unload a cache of 50 naloxone kits in each of the state’s 10 public health preparedness districts, as well as stocking extra in Indianapolis. If a law enforcement agency runs out, they’ll be able to contact local dispatch, a poison center or emergency medical services director, who would then connect them to the nearest supply site.
Walthall—who got the stockpile idea after she received the panicked call from Jennings County early the morning it ran dry — says the initiative required cooperation across half a dozen agencies. But she says everyone from the Department of Homeland Security to Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services is behind the idea.
“We’re onboard that naloxone needs to be in play at the time of need, otherwise it’s not useful,” she says. “I think it will be a nice, evidence-based way to capitalize on an infrastructure that already exists.”
ISDH will use existing grant money to put the plan in place.