The state released a map this week to help people find the nearest sources of the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone, highlighting pharmacies that can provide the medication kits — no prescription needed.
Karen Cheman, who has worked for 13 years in the state Human Services Department’s Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, said the map fills a growing need.
“We get a lot of requests for Narcan or naloxone, and we wanted to make this map to give people the option of finding where they can get access to it,” she said.
The Behavioral Health Services Division integrated the interactive map with Google Maps, so people can get directions to the nearest provider.
For more than three decades, New Mexico had among the highest fatal drug overdose rates in the nation, peaking in 2014. The death rate was largely driven by heroin and prescription opioid painkillers.
As death rates from opioid overdoses have skyrocketed across the nation, however, New Mexico’s rank fell from second highest in 2014, with 547 deaths, to 17th in 2017, with 493 deaths, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drug deaths rose again last year to 537, according to state data. However, officials said the increase was largely due to deaths from methamphetamine. There is not yet a drug-based antidote for a meth overdose.
A New Mexico Department of Health study found 53 percent of New Mexicans were unaware of where or how to get naloxone, and only 15 percent knew they could request the medication without a prescription.
Since 2016, New Mexicans have had access to Narcan — a brand of naloxone administered via nasal spray — through a “standing order,” meaning licensed prescribers provide the drug on request.
According to GoodRx, a company that compares prescription prices, the copays for Narcan range from $14 to $150.
The requests for naloxone are increasing.
In 2017, an estimated 24,573 doses of naloxone were distributed throughout the state, according to data compiled by the Human Services Department. The study tracked law enforcement distributions, Department of Health harm-reduction programs and Medicaid payouts. In 2018, the number doubled to 48,464 doses.
Continued funding for the opioid crisis is a concern, however.
The Behavioral Health Services Division is the largest supplier of Narcan, Cheman said, because of two federal grants that allow for the direct purchase of the drug. The State Opioid Response Grant also pays for opioid prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery. The grants are set to expire Sept. 29.
Currently, Cheman said she’s not sure if the same level of federal funding will continue.
“We’ve heard rumors that the current administration is interested in renewing the funding for the opiate response grant, but we haven’t heard any specifics on any grants,” she said.
View the map
• To find out which pharmacies in the state carry the lifesaving opioid-overdose reversal drug naloxone, visit doseofreality.com/naloxone.