Franklin County Distributes Free Narcan After Rash Of Overdose Deaths

Feb 12, 2020

After a recent spike of drug deaths, several health agencies in Franklin County are giving out free doses of the overdose antidote nalaxone.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz says nearly 30 people have died of drug overdoses so far in February. Ortiz wrote in a Facebook post that "most of these folks most likely died from fentanyl."

In response, Columbus Public Health and other agencies distributed free Narcan, a brand name of the drug naloxone, on Wednesday. Naloxone works only to reverse opioid overdoses.

"Have you heard of Narcan before? Do you know what it does?" asks Steven Snyder-Hill as he gave out the drug at Columbus Public Health. "I need you to fill out, first of all, this intake form."

People can receive the drug regardless of their answers, but questions about previous intravenous drug use and overdose history help the department collect data.

"If you come across somebody and they're passed out, and have shallow breathing and their pupils are dilated, those are things that can indicate an overdose," Snyder-Hill says.

Snyder-Hill says the first step is to call 911. Then he describes how to administer the naloxone by spraying it in the person's nasal passages.

"When someone has overdosed, they will immediately come back to life," he says. "The breathing will start and they'll come out of that right away."

If someone is interested in Narcan but missed the free distribution day, Snyder-Hill says it's always available at the pharmacy without a prescription.

"We're calling it a blitz. We want to get the naloxone on the street," he says. "Naloxone in people's hands means lives saved."

Preliminary data from 2019 show that while the state decreased overdose deaths, Franklin County saw an increase.