(The Center Square) – The Minnesota Department of Health released a digital map that can help residents find naloxone.
Naloxone, which is also known by brand name Narcan®, can reverse an opioid overdose. The department made the announcement on Wednesday.
Residents can type in their address or zip code and filter by distance to find pharmacies, naloxone access points, and syringe service programs on the map that tend to have naloxone. Map entries include contact information, address and other guidance so residents can confirm availability of the drug.
MDH Overdose Prevention Naloxone Coordinator Cody Bassett told The Center Square in a phone interview the department sought to find another way to contribute to public- and private-sector efforts to give access to naloxone to as many Minnesotans as possible to try to prevent more overdoses.
He said they decided to create a map of their listing of Minnesota pharmacies that can distribute the drug.
While the department was developing its map with an existing contractor, the Steve Rummler HOPE Network created a map of naloxone access points. The MDH map, which is more comprehensive, includes the Network’s access points. The biggest difference is that it provides more than 600 pharmacy locations, Bassett said.
“This is definitely not going to solve the crisis, but we’re hoping it helps. … Naloxone is like an EpiPen. Even if somebody doesn’t have to use it, it’s good to have on hand. You never know when an overdose is going to occur. It’s not planned. It’s not predictable. But like an EpiPen, if you have it on hand and you need it, it’s better to have it than not have it,” he said.
Minnesota Department of Health Drug Overdose Communications Coordinator Alison Molitor told The Center Square in the phone interview that the map tied in with other work the agency is leading for the department.
“For years we have prioritized increasing access, training, and awareness of naloxone in the state, and this new tool is an exciting step forward,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a news release. “Using this tool can simplify the process of accessing naloxone and in turn, save lives. We want everyone to remember that – if needed – they can be the one to provide rescue steps before 911 in an overdose emergency.”
More than 4,600 visitors have accessed the map since it launched in December, the release said.
The department was not able to provide the contract with the agency by press time.