From as early as next year, Oklahoma’s Bureau of Indian Affairs law
enforcement officers will be equipped with an atomized version of
naloxone, said agencies including the White House Office of National
Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"According to the Centers for Disease Control, rates of opioid
overdose in Native American communities have increased four-fold
from 2009,” Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control
Policy, told a news conference in Tulsa.
Dr. Susan Karol, chief medical officer for Indian Health Services,
or IHS, said at the news conference: "BIA officers are often the
first to respond to these tragedies.”
The naloxone, paid for by IHS, will be dispensed through 91 IHS
federal pharmacies, but tribal pharmacies will be welcomed as well,
Karol said. There was no price estimate given for the pilot program.
“We have seen a rise in both heroin use and prescription opioid use
in Native American communities,” Karol said.
Initially, the program will be offered in Oklahoma and eventually go
nationwide, officials said. Oklahoma has the country's
second-highest percentage of Native Americans in its population.
According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 18.3
of American Indians/Alaskan Natives aged 12 and older were current
users of illicit drugs.
[to top of second column]
"We are dealing with an opioid epidemic, and we need a comprehensive
response,” said Botticelli.
As of September, 43 U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C., had
laws to increase people's access to naloxone, but they are a
patchwork and ease of access varies, said Corey Davis and Derek Carr
of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based Network for Public Health Law.
(Additional reporting by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton; Editing by Jon
Herskovitz and Peter Cooney)
[© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2015 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.