Purdue Pharma and Nation’s Sheriffs Announce Pilot Project to Train and Administer Anti-Overdose “Rescue Drug”

Monday, May 9, 2016


National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) CEO and Executive Director Jonathan Thompson announced that four counties will begin a pilot program to train sheriffs how to use the “rescue drug” naloxone and provide the drug to the local offices.

Sheriff’s offices in St. Lucie County, Fla., Daviess County, Ky., Loudoun County, Va. and Jefferson County, Ala., will be trained to administer the anti-overdose drug in the field. Purdue Pharma has provided the NSA with a $350,000 grant to launch the pilot program.

“The battle against the heroin and opiate epidemic has claimed far too many casualties; our brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. Starting this week, sheriffs’ deputies fight back,” Thompson said.

In 2014, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with more than 47,000 fatal overdoses. Of those, almost 19,000 were caused by prescription pain relievers, including illicitly manufactured Fentanyl, and more than 10,000 were related to heroin. Forty-four people a day are dying from opiate overdoses, according to the CDC.

“Our deputies are still encountering opiate overdoses, but now they’re able to do something about it. But there are still dozens dying every day. Thanks to our sheriffs and their deputies, and with an assist from Purdue Pharma, help is on the way,” NSA Executive Board Member and Daviess County, Ky., Sheriff Keith Cain said.

“When we first learned of Purdue Pharma’s grant last November, we said that ‘deaths from opioid overdoses continue unabated.’ Thanks to the welcome and responsible efforts of Purdue Pharma and our deputies in the field, unabated is no longer the right word. To be sure, the battle continues, but with the help of one pharmaceutical company, our deputies are fighting back and saving lives,” Thompson said.   

Virginia: In Loudoun County deaths have risen by 450 percent since 2012 as reported by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe established a Task Force to combat the spread of Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse in September 2014. In 2015, deaths from opioid overdose surpassed highway fatalities. The Virginia Office of the Medical Examiner reported that over 3,000 people have died from opioid overdose in the last five years.

Kentucky has one of the highest death rates from drug overdose in the nation, ranked #4 with 1,077 deaths in 2014. The Kentucky State Office of Drug Control Policy statistics show  Davies County is near the top for drug deaths in the state. In the state, Morphine, the metabolite of Heroin, was present in 40% of bodies in drug related deaths. 

Alabama had an increase of 19.7 percent in drug overdose deaths from 2013 to 2014 according to the National Vital Statistics Report from the National Center for Health Statistics.  Overdoses claimed 723 lives in 2014 alone. According to the Center for Disease Control's Alabama Prescription Drug overview, the prescription drug overdose rate was 11.8 per 100,000 individuals. 

Florida had an increase of 4.8 percent in opioid drug related deaths from 2013 to 2014 – for a total of 447 deaths in 2014, according to FDLE Office of the Medical Examiner. Poisoning is the leading cause of accidental death in FL, with nine out of 10 being drug related. According to the Florida Department of Health, 80 percent of drug overdose deaths were accidental. While deaths from prescription drugs have relatively declined in recent years they have not declined at the rate at which heroin overdose has skyrocketed.