Vending machines stocked with overdose-reversing nasal spray are part of the latest attempt to diminish a record drug death total. The Food and Drug Administration and some states have loosened restrictions on drugs, including Narcan, that are sprayed into the nose to reverse an opioid overdose. Nonprofits that work with opioid users are distributing more of the drugs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Getting Narcan as close as possible to people at risk for overdoses is essential to saving lives, they said. “If we hadn’t had that vending machine, I might not have had my brother alive today,” said LuDene LoyaltyGroves, who works at a homeless shelter in Moses Lake, Wa. People staying with her brother in a nearby encampment retrieved Narcan from a vending machine at the shelter and used it to revive him repeatedly. Drug-overdose deaths exceeded 108,000, a record fueled by the potent illicit opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl is killing people who don’t know it is in cocaine or fake pills. It is also killing habitual users who mix it with drugs including methamphetamine. The vending machines aim to make it easier for drug users to get overdose antidotes themselves. A five-year project through 2021 led by the University of Washington found that 94 percent of overdose reversals are administered by opioid users. Fewer than one percent of the 8,711 overdoses recorded during the project were reversed with the help of EMTs or police. Aid groups that work with drug users are driving new business to vending-machine makers. The Wittern Group said it got a call from an aid group in Las Vegas in 2018 asking the 90-year-old vending machine company to outfit a few used machines to dispense Narcan. Last year, more than 100 groups that dispense free Narcan to users called to request quotes for vending machines that cost up to $12,000.
top of page
bottom of page