TRENTON – The state is taking steps to make it easier for first responders and other agencies to get shipments of naloxone, the overdose antidote medication.

The departments of Human Services, Health and Law and Public Safety are partnering on a distribution program that will allow eligible agencies to request direct shipments of naloxone online anytime they need it.

“This distribution program is another way we are working to increase access to naloxone so that it will be on-hand whenever and wherever it is needed,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

“We look forward to eligible agencies registering for this essential program and expanding the availability of this medication,” said Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “With the collaborative work of the agencies, together we can continue to turn the tide in our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.”

Agencies including law enforcement, first responders and community organizations such as libraries can register through a new website and request direct shipments of naloxone at no charge. It will be sent directly from the manufacturer to minimize delay and maximize shelf life.

Eligible agencies also include harm reduction agencies, peer recovery centers, county prosecutors’ offices, family support centers, mobile outreach providers, opioid treatment programs and other substance-abuse treatment programs, prisoner re-entry programs and shelters.

A new state law authorizes a recipient in possession of an opioid antidote to distribute the antidote, without fee, to any person at risk of experiencing an overdose or who may be in the best position to administer an opioid antidote.

The law also requires first responders to leave behind naloxone to individuals in certain circumstances when responding to an overdose.

The naloxone is paid for through federal funds.

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In the past four years, there have been an average of 3,049 drug overdose deaths each year.

The state says there were 1,476 suspected drug-related deaths in the first half of 2022, which would represent a drop of almost 10% from the 1,634 between January and June of last year.

Those numbers are preliminary, however. Even the 2020 and 2021 numbers aren’t yet confirmed.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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