Did you know that just 2 milligrams of fentanyl are enough to cause an overdose? Some governments and non-profit organizations are making use of vending machines to distribute Narcan, a medication reversing opioid overdose, to reduce drug overdose deaths.
Also, Narcan vending machines with this lifesaving medication are being installed in various cities across the country, including North Carolina, Winston-Salem, and Philadelphia, at malls, detention centers, college campuses, and other public places for use in emergencies.
Vending machines dispensing Narcan, the fentanyl antidote, are popping up across the US as a small town of 7000 people was forced to restock seven times in one month – while the opioid death count exceeds 75000 this year.
Furthermore, to increase Narcan availability, some local governments have placed the vending machines strategically near at-risk populations — for instance, at jails — since studies suggest that recently incarcerated individuals are about 40 times more likely to die of opioid overuse than others.
Some Facts about this Scenario
- Here are some facts about the ongoing fentanyl crisis:
- In 2022, fentanyl has resulted in the death of 75,000 people already.
- In the most recent move to counter the fentanyl crisis, numerous communities have begun utilizing free Narcan dispensing vending machines.
- As well as that, these machines are stocked with free Narcan nasal spray, and some also include free snacks and other products.
- Mostly, non-profits pay for the machines, though some local governments have started operating them.
- Finally, the high number of fentanyl deaths is augmented by the fact that users are unaware of the fatal drug being laced into several other substances including methamphetamine and cocaine.
Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?
Our Organization’s Insights
Ashley Hubler, Chief Marketing Officer of the Wittern Group, a vending machine supplier in Iowa, said “These organizations, they may be closed at five but with a machine that could be outdoors or placed in a variety of places,” “Now the end users can access the machine regardless if it’s four o’clock during business hours or two o’clock in the morning [to] access the supplies when they need them.”
Our organization has been selling vending machines for food and drinks for about 90 years. We believe that managed vending machines are easy to implement, offer convenience and provide many more benefits.
Amanda Clark, a Lead in the Forsyth County Department of Public Health said, “We actually had an EMS call recently where there was an overdose happening about a block or two down the street from our jail”.
Additionally, she said, “The person who called 911 remembered that there was that Narcan machine at the jail. And so after they called 911, they actually ran to the jail to get some Narcan from the machine while they were waiting for first responders to get there. And the person was able to be revived, and by the time the paramedics got there, they were sitting up and talking and doing fine.”
Similar Initiatives and Stats
Initiatives similar to the one shown in the case study above have been taken in Michigan, Nevada, Washington, Indiana, among other states. They follow the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) loosening its restrictions on Narcan and other opioid overdose antidotes in 2019 to increase their availability.
Additionally, vending machines with Narcan are being used in other cities. The Central Washington Recovery Coalition, which is a non-profit organization helping drug users, set up three vending machines around its area, including Moses Lake and Wenatchee. Local charities give users a code, which they can input on a vending machine to receive their dose of Narcan.
The following graph shows the fentanyl deaths in the US from 2017 to 2022:
The opioid overdose death rate is higher today than ever before. Synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, have contaminated the drug supply. Not to mention, it is found in almost everything these days, which is driving this spike in opioid overdose deaths.
In a Fox News interview, Jim Crotty, former deputy chief of staff for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said, “We should be carpet-bombing our cities with naloxone. That’s how dire this crisis is.”