Medical Professionals Trained in Opioid Overdose Reversal Drug

Baihly Warfield
October 23, 2017 10:20 PM

As opioids continue to plague the Northland, many groups have a role to play in the solution. 

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"I think that medical professionals can be more involved in community efforts," Laura Palombi, assistant professor at the U of M College of Pharmacy, said. 

A group of about 70 local medical professionals gathered at Essentia Health's Miller Dwan Auditorium Monday night to learn how to help give someone a second chance. 

"There's a lot of folks that are just on high doses of opioids that would benefit from having a prescription for naloxone, just in case," Palombi said. "We kind of liken it to something you'd include in your first aid kit. You hope you never need it, but if you do, it's there."

She said it's not always the picture you have in your mind of a drug user in an alley. There could be elderly people on opioids at risk of overdose too. 

Naloxone reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, and it has become more widely available. Heather Blue, an emergency medicine pharmacist at St. Luke's, has seen how it makes a difference. 

"We used to see where patients were completely nonresponsive, not breathing," Blue said. "Now ... they've already received the lifesaving medication naloxone, so we're seeing them coming in breathing."

First responders carry naloxone kits. It can be administered in an injection or a nasal spray. And it's easier to get it in a pharmacy, even without a prescription. 

"It's really not the solution to the opioid epidemic, but giving someone naloxone really saves their life at that moment and allows them one more opportunity to seek the treatment that they need," Blue said. 

There are three more sessions for medical professionals to attend:
-Thursday, November 2 at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Auditorium, Cloquet
-Monday, November 13 at Vermilion Community College, Ely
-Monday, November 20 at Fariview Plaza, Hibbing

There will also be a few public trainings in Duluth and Cloquet on Nov. 30.


Baihly Warfield

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