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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Novant Health fully supports the surgeon general’s recommendation that families and friends of those at risk for overdose help combat the opioid epidemic by carrying naloxone, a medication used to temporarily reverse opioid overdose.
“Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a call to action for the entire country, emphasizing that everyone has a role to play in the national effort to end the opioid epidemic,” said Tom Zweng, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Novant Health. “Naloxone is a life-saving tool that’s underutilized due to lack of information at the community level.”
All Novant Health community pharmacies are equipped to provide naloxone to patients without a prescription in accordance with standing orders issued by the state in North Carolina and Virginia. “We want the communities we serve to know that naloxone, sometimes referred to by the brand name Narcan, is available to patients across the Novant Health footprint,” stated Bridget Bridgman, PharmD, director of medication safety at Novant Health and the leader of Novant Health’s opioid stewardship initiative.
Zweng notes that naloxone is only a bridge to an overall solution to the opioid crisis, however.
“Naloxone can save a life, but we have a duty to solve the crisis. As a result, in 2017, Novant Health formed an opioid stewardship task force to examine ways to reduce opioid dependency and stigma associated with substance use disorder, and formed drug takeback programs,” said Zweng.
In only five months, Novant Health has reduced the number of unused pills in the community by 144 gallons.
In 2017, Novant Health diagnosed more than 11,500 patients with opioid use disorder. Among those patients, 18 percent are receiving medication-assisted therapy to support their recovery.
While the opioid epidemic did not happen overnight, Novant Health is committed to making as many needed changes as fast as possible.