The makers of a drug that helps reverse the life-threatening effects of opioids have made a push to create more awareness.
Adapt Pharma is the maker of Narcan, an FDA approved nasal spray that administers the drug Naloxone.
Naloxone is used by many police departments including the Metro Nashville Police Department to counteract the symptoms of opioid overdoses during a call or protect the officers from the harmful effects of illicit drugs such as Fentanyl.
"The goal was to have normal people be able to use Naloxone or Narcan to help reverse an opioid overdose," said Adapt Pharma Executive Director of Communications Thom Duddy told NewsChannel 5.
Duddy said that there were 1.3 million prescriptions of opioid in Tennessee since March this year. On the other hand, there were approximately 5,400 prescriptions of Naloxone during the same time.
Duddy said there is a need to co-prescribe Naloxone alongside opioid pain medication.
"It shouldn't be on a level playing ground but at least somewhere those prescriptions are risky that there should be at least an offer for Naloxone," said Duddy.
State health officials recently released new data saying that number of overdose deaths last year has increased since 2015.
Data showed 1,631 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses in 2016. That is an increase from the 1,451 overdose deaths recorded in 2015. Seventy-two percent of those deaths were from opioids.
Numbers from the Health Department showed overdose deaths related to fentanyl have dramatically increased 74 percent from 169 to 294 between 2015 and 2016. Heroin was associated with the deaths of 260 Tennesseans in 2016, a 26 percent increase over the previous year. Drug overdose deaths due to stimulants like methamphetamine also increased substantially, especially in people aged 25 – 44, where they increased from 57 deaths in 2015 to 101 in 2016.
There has also been a push to equip schools with the drug.
In May, Tennessee legislators approved a bill that would require the state board of education to create guidelines on managing Naloxone in schools.
While it is not required for schools to carry the drug, Adapt Pharma is giving two doses to high schools and 12 doses for free to universities across the country.
Currently, the Tennessee Department of Education and the Tennessee Department of Health are working on guidelines to be presented to the board of education at the October quarterly meeting.
Nurses at all grade levels with Metro Nashville Public Schools already carry Narcan.