46 lives in Utah saved thanks to opioid overdose reversal kits

SALT LAKE CITY — Forty six people’s lives have been saved thanks to a pilot project that funded the handout of thousands of opioid overdose reversal kits.

The Utah Department of Health reported the results of the pilot program over the past year, where more than 3,000 Naloxone kits were distributed statewide to law enforcement agencies, health departments and other providers. It was made possible by $230,000 in funding from the Utah State Legislature for the pilot program.

As a result, 46 opioid overdose reversals had been reported in the past year.

“The funding for the pilot program has been critical to ensuring access to naloxone for those at greatest risk of an overdose. Providing naloxone may mean the difference between life and death for those struggling with opioid addiction,” Joseph Miner, the executive director of the state health department, said in a statement.

Earlier this year, several bills addressing Utah’s opioid epidemic were run by Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork; Rep. Carol Spackman-Moss, D-Holladay; and Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy.

The Utah Department of Health also said the number of prescription opioid overdose deaths dropped 12 percent from 2015-2016. But the number of heroin deaths increased by 15 percent in the same time period. About 240 people are reported to have died from prescription opioid deaths in Utah in 2016; 149 people died from heroin deaths that same year.