Narcan case aims to increase awareness, save lives

  • Recorder Staff/Tom RelihanSarah Ahern of Greenfield demonstrates the use of a new Narcan carrying case designed to increase access to the lifesaving overdose reversal medication and reduce the stigma around opioid addiction.

  • Recorder Staff/Tom RelihanWeAreAllies Inc’s new Narcan carrying case is designed to raise awareness and prevent overdose deaths. The idea rose out of a Opioid Epidemic Hackathon event held in Boston this fall.

For the Gazette
Published: 11/15/2016 12:09:21 AM

GREENFIELD — Minutes matter when a person is experiencing an opioid overdose, and the quicker a person can administer the life-saving medication Narcan, the better are the odds of survival.

Now, one local addiction activist is working with a nonprofit organization that rose out of a recent Opioid Epidemic Hackathon in Boston — We Are Allies Inc. — to develop a field case that will allow people to carry the medication with them without it spoiling, and respond quickly in an emergency.

The bright purple case is designed to be worn outwardly, clipped to a hand bag or belt loop, said Sarah Ahern, the local activist and founder of addiction awareness group End The Stigma.

“The idea is to destigmatize the disease and enlist a community response,” Ahern said.

Ahern said the organization plans to develop a website and smartphone application that would allow carriers to use a personal identification number that comes with each case to have their location entered into a GPS system. The app could then be activated by an overdose victim on their own phone to quickly locate the nearest case and get help or send out an alert to carriers.

“Currently, when someone overdoses in our community, you don’t know who is carrying naloxone (the active ingredient in Narcan),” Ahern
said. “I always carry it, but it’s in my purse, not out in the open. You’re going to call 911, that’s obvious, but who’s nearby?”

Newer, stronger opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil make acting quickly to provide a dose of naloxone even more crucial, Ahern said.

“What’s coming is scary, and that’s why we need this,” she said.

The material the hard-shell case is made of is designed to control the temperature within and keep the medication fresh, Ahern said. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy is currently testing the product to make sure the medication stays stable.

Ahern can be reached for more information at endthestigma1@yahoo.com.


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